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Covid-19: World Bank to provide $1-billion to boost India’s health infra

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 03, 2020 Published on April 03, 2020

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This new support will cover all States and Union Territories across India

The World Bank on Friday announced $1-billion (over ₹7,500 crore) support for the India Covid-19 emergency response and health systems preparedness project. This is largest ever support for the health sector in India.

“This operation is expected to enhance surveillance capacities, strengthen diagnostic systems, and expand the capacity of laboratories,” Junaid Ahmad, World Bank’s Country Director for India, said. However, according to him, Covid-19 is not only a health challenge. It has deep social and economic implications. “In parallel, we are working with equal urgency with government on social protection programmes and economic measures that protect the livelihoods of people,” he said.

This new support will cover all States and Union Territories across India and address the needs of infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel and service providers, medical and testing facilities, and national and animal health agencies.

Improve capacity

The project will immediately enable the government to scale up efforts to limit human-to-human transmission, including reducing local transmission of cases and containing the epidemic from progressing further. In parallel, interventions to strengthen the health system will be rolled out to improve the country’s capacity to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic and be better prepared to respond to emerging disease outbreaks, including transmission between humans and animals.

Procurement of testing kits; setting up of new isolation wards — including turning hospital beds into intensive care unit beds — infection prevention and control; and purchase of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and medicines, particularly in district hospitals and designated infectious disease hospitals, will be scaled up under the project.

The project will also enhance the resilience of India’s health system to provide core public health prevention and patient care to better manage Covid-19 and future disease outbreaks. It will help strengthen India’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, revamp infectious disease hospitals, district, civil, general and medical college hospitals, and build a network of high containment Biosafety Level 3 laboratories.

Human-to-animal transmission

Today, about 75 per cent of new infectious diseases begin with human-to-animal contact, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and SARS. The project will develop capacity and systems to detect existing and emerging zoonoses, support biomedical research on Covid-19 by Indian institutions, and upgrade viral research and diagnostic laboratories for testing and research.

The project is financed from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) in the amount of $1 billion, of which $350 million is provided through the World Bank Group’s Covid-19 Fast-Track Facility. It will be managed by the National Health Mission (NHM), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Published on April 03, 2020

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