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IDB approves $107 million loan to strengthen immunization program for children in Colombia

The Inter-American Development Bank today approved a $107 million loan to Colombia to strengthen the country’s immunization program for children up to five years of age, focusing on improving the system in low-income municipalities where coverage is below the national average.

The resources will enable the Ministry of Social Protection* and the National Health Institute, to purchase vaccines, syringes and other equipment and to acquire technical assistance and train the necessary personnel to support the expanded national immunization program, known as EPI.

Among the diseases prevented by the vaccination program are polio, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, meningitis, yellow fever, measles, mumps, rubella and influenza. Increased and maintained levels of timely vaccination will reduce future outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease.

The operational capacity of the EPI will be enhanced, ensuring that vaccinations take place at proper intervals, and coordination will be improved between the public sector, which will carry out the EPI, and the private sector, which manages insurance programs that participate in the financing and provision of vaccinations. The network of cold storage for vaccines will be improved. EPI will be particularly strengthened in 71 poor municipalities, about 6 percent of the nation’s total, where immunization rates are below 80 percent. Colombia’s poorest Afro-descendent and indigenous communities, where vaccination rates are the lowest, will be among the main beneficiaries of the program.

The Bank and Colombia have agreed on a performance-based lending program in which funds will be disbursed in four tranches according to results-based measurement and evaluation systems.

“The use of a performance-driven loan instrument allows for improvements in the effectiveness of EPI – more children vaccinated on time, with an emphasis on the poorest communities – while simultaneously providing incentives to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the program’s results measurement systems,” commented Amanda Glassman, the IDB project team leader.

The project reflects the IDB’s commitment to supporting Colombia’s strategy of promoting social development and protecting the country’s most vulnerable groups.

The IDB loan is for a 25-year term, with a 5.5-year grace period, at a variable interest rate. Local counterpart funds total $26.7 million.