THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it has a technical assistance fund of $20.3 million to help its member countries organize the distribution of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines once these are available sometime next year.

The ADB said in a statement Tuesday that technical assistance will fund health system assessments, country readiness plans, and systems to track vaccine delivery.

“With these additional grant resources, ADB can immediately support our developing members to undertake urgent action, including vaccine system assessments and vaccine deployment strategies, to ensure vaccines are delivered efficiently and fairly,” Woochong Um, director general of ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, was quoted as saying.

The technical assistance will be jointly implemented with its partners including UNICEF and the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and COVAX — a global alliance seeking to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven has said the Philippine government will tap the ADB and World Bank for technical and financial support for its free vaccination program targeted for 20 million people next year.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has said the government is seeking to borrow $300 million to finance its vaccination program, which may cost up to P40 billion.

The World Bank approved in October a new loan facility worth $12 billion to help developing countries buy and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. — Beatrice M. Laforga