The Centre and the World Bank has signed two complementary loans of $500 million each to support and enhance the country’s health sector development.
Through this combined financing of $1 billion, the World Bank will support India’s flagship Pradhan Mantri-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), launched in October 2021. The Ayushman Bharat mission looks at improving the public healthcare infrastructure across the country.
Both the loans are from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), having a final maturity of 18.5 years, including a grace period of 5 years.
Service in 7 States
In addition to the national level interventions, one of the loans will prioritise health service delivery in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, the World Bank said in a statement.
The agreement was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Auguste Tano Kouamé, Country Director, India, World Bank.
“The two projects are supporting India’s decision to increase the resilience and preparedness of the country’s health systems against future pandemics. This will be of great benefit for the populations of the States participating in the projects and will generate positive spillovers for other States,” said Kouamé.
According to World Bank estimates, India’s life expectancy—at 69.8 in 2020, up from 58 in 1990—is higher than the average for the country’s income level. The under-five mortality rate (36 per 1,000 live births), infant mortality rate (30 per 1,000 live births), and maternal mortality ratio (103 per 100,000 live births) are all close to the average for India’s income level.
“Covid-19 has underscored the need for revitalising, reforming, and developing capacity for core public health functions, as well as for improving the quality and comprehensiveness of health service delivery,” the World Bank said in its statement.
The $500-million Public Health System for Pandemic Preparedness Programme will support the government’s efforts to prepare the country’s surveillance system to be ready to detect and report “epidemics of potential international concern”, ensure rapid response, and prevent emergence of pathogens (and also detect pathogens including zoonotic diseases).
The $500-million Enhanced Health Service Delivery Programme will on the other hand, support government’s efforts to strengthen service delivery through a redesigned primary health care model (including improved household access to primary healthcare facilities), improve quality of care by supporting the National Quality Assurance Standards certification across health and wellness Centers, and transform health sector governance and accountability by strengthening implementation capacity, enhancing performance measurement and knowledge exchanges among states.