Two complementary loans totaling $500 million each were authorised today by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors to help and develop the health sector in India.
Through this combined financing of $1 billion, the World Bank is looking to assist the Pradhan Mantri-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), which was launched by the government in October 2021 for the development the public healthcare infrastructure across the country.
Along with the involvement at the national level, one of the loans is meant to provide priority to the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh for the improvement of their current medical infrastructure.
In its official release to the press, the international financial institution noted that despite indications of the improvement of India’s health performance over time in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality, the Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the necessity of revitalising, reforming, and building capacity for essential public health activities as well as for improving the quality and comprehensiveness of healthcare services in the country.
World Bank’s Acting Country Director for India, Hideki Mori commented on the development by saying, “The COVID-19 outbreak has re-emphasized the urgency for significant reforms to improve health sector performance in India.” “India’s decision to invest early and significantly to strengthen its health system even as it emerges from the pandemic, is a pioneering choice and we are pleased to support this important agenda,” he went on to add.
The two loans, Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program (PHSPP) and Enhanced Health Service Delivery Program (EHSDP), are intended to complement one another and have a transformative effect, according to the statement released by the World Bank. According to the institution, they would support the Indian government's reform initiatives to speed up the expansion of coverage, boost standards, and increase the system's preparation and resilience.
World Bank’s South Asia Regional Director for Human Development, Lynne Sherburne-Benz said, “The two Programs leverage the unique strengths of both the center and the states to support the development of more accessible, high-quality, and affordable health services.” “This strengthening of health systems, combined with attention to strong disease response, will improve preparedness and response to future disease outbreaks,” she added.
The Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program (PHSPP) is meant to facilitate the Indian government's initiatives to improve the government's ability to detect pathogens, support India's efforts to prepare its surveillance system for the quick detection of pandemics, and strengthen the institutional capacity of the country's core public health institutions to implement the programme and produce high-quality results.
Both the PHSPP and the EHSDP make use of the financing mechanism known as "Program-for-Results," which places an emphasis on outputs rather than inputs. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development's (IBRD) PHSPP and EHSDP loans have a combined final term of 18.5 years, including a 5-year grace period.
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