INDIA – The Government of India has attracted a US$1 billion low-interest loan from the World Bank to strengthen the public health system at all levels of government across the nation.

The recent grant funding comes after the World Bank approved US$750 million in the form of a development policy loan (DPL) in 2022 to fill financing gaps through private sector investment in the economy.

The financing will be used to support India’s flagship Pradhan Mantri-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), and to enhance public healthcare infrastructure across the country.

The funds will also facilitate the development of health service delivery in seven states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

The joint statement said: “The World Bank and India signed two complementary loans of US$500 million each to support and boost the country’s public healthcare system.”

The signing ceremony was presided over by Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and Auguste Tano Kouamé, Country Director for India, World Bank.

Under health, two loans– Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Programme (PHSPP) and Enhanced Health Service Delivery Programme (EHSDP) — are designed to be complementary and transformational in impact.

The US$500 million Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program will support the government’s efforts to prepare India’s surveillance system to be ready to detect and report epidemics of potential international concern.

According to the World Bank statement, this first-of-its-kind grant program will ensure a rapid pandemic response, prevent the emergence of pathogens while enhancing the county’s capacity to detect pathogens.

The project will further improve India’s bio-security response and commercialization of new technologies to prevent, detect or treat infectious diseases.

The financing will play a particularly important role in supporting the country’s efforts in increasing the resilience and preparedness of the country’s health systems against future pandemics.

At the same time, the US$500 million Enhanced Health Service Delivery Program will support the government’s efforts to strengthen service delivery through a redesigned primary healthcare model.

The funds will be used to improve household access to primary healthcare facilities, build stronger links between each household and its primary care facility and bolster risk assessment of non-communicable diseases.

Through this combined financing of US$1 billion, World Bank will pave the way for India to strengthen coordination and build the institutional capacity of core public health institutions to benefit the populations of the selected states participating in the projects.

It will support the Indian government’s reform agenda to accelerate universal coverage, improve quality, and increase the resilience and preparedness of the health system.

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