IMF Official Commends MENA Countries For Prompt, Efficient Response To COVID-19

IMF Official Commends MENA Countries for Prompt, Efficient Response to COVID-19

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 16th July, 2020) Countries in the middle East and North Africa region (MENA) proved able to react to the coronavirus pandemic quickly and with strong measures that made it possible to contain COVID-19 and save lives, Jihad Azour, the director of the IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department, said on Thursday.

Azour spoke at a video conference on regional economic outlook in the Middle East and Central Asia, hosted by the Carnegie Middle East Center.

"Countries [in the Middle East and North Africa] were able to react quickly, were able to react with strong measures that had most of the countries of the region, despite their challenges and disparities in the health care systems, contain and control the spread of the pandemic and save lives of citizens," Azour said.

Azour hailed, in particular, the fact that countries and institutions showed the capacity to work together in the face of a shared crisis.

According to Azour, the International Monetary Fund was able to engage other funds, institutions and government in joining forces to address vulnerabilities in the region.

At the same time, the official said that health care infrastructure and spending must be scaled up to be prepared for any future shocks associated with the coronavirus, especially in countries hosting large communities of refugees and internally displaced persons.

Moving forward, the official urged countries to avoid what he called "3D risks" denial, delay and distortion of adequate responses to crises.

The IMF has mobilized an additional $17 billion in emergency assistance, including in grants, to coronavirus-hit countries, which Azour said was the largest increase in one year.