The World Bank says the emergency support will fund rapid health support for PNG focused on protecting health workers and others in the response effort, helping PNG health authorities quickly scale-up testing capacity, and strengthening public education to combat the spread of the virus.
The project, funded through the World Bank Group's $14 billion global Covid-19 response package, includes funding for a new container-based laboratory in the capital, Port Moresby, as well as lab equipment, medical supplies (including biosafety cabinets), and funding to transport Covid-19 samples to laboratories within PNG and to Australia for quality assurance.
The project will be implemented in close coordination with the World Health Organisation.
The emergency funding will also deliver personal protective equipment for PNG health workers, including masks, goggles, gloves and gowns; supplies for infection prevention such as isolation units and incinerators for waste disposal; and critical intensive care equipment including ventilators and oxygen flow regulators, among other items.
In addition, the emergency project will fund an extensive nation-wide public education and community engagement campaign, to be delivered across television, radio, social media and SMS blasts, aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus across the country.
Prime Minister James Marape said that the PNG and the rest of the world faced a challenge that had never before been encountered.
"This assistance will not only ensure we are able to better protect our frontline health workers but will also enable us to improve our testing capacity and build on public awareness and education, which are central to our country's fight against the coronavirus."
World Bank PNG country manager Stefano Mocci said that the bank was proud to stand with the government and people of PNG in this difficult time.
"This commitment to PNG is, quite simply, about saving lives. Work is already under way to ensure the supplies and support delivered through this project can get to the frontlines of PNG's health system as quickly as possible," Mocci said.
The commitment is part of a wider package of World Bank support to tackle a number of PNG's most pressing health challenges.
The $15 million Emergency Tuberculosis Project is now in its third year, and alongside partners including the Australian government and WHO, has already had an impact, with treatment success rates of above 85% for patients in Daru Island and an expansion of project activities to Port Moresby.
Improvements in testing and training financed through the Covid-19 Emergency Project will also make a lasting contribution to addressing other infectious diseases like TB.
The World Bank is now preparing several other projects to support countries throughout the Pacific region in their response to the pandemic.