The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $300 million loan for improved access of primary healthcare in urban areas of thirteen states in the country. The initiative will address the requirements of 256 million urban dwellers in which 51 million belong to the slums.
On behalf of the Government of India, Rajat Kumar Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, signed the agreement with Takeo Konishi, Country Director of the India Resident Mission of ADB. The joint agreement is for Strengthening the Comprehensive Primary Health Care with simultaneous pandemic preparedness in Urban Areas Program across these states.
Mishra said the programme supports the key health initiatives of the Government and these include Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC) apart from Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) through expanding the access and availability of quality primary health care services.
Launched in 2018, Ayushman Bharat programme aims at improving access to comprehensive primary healthcare. The programme is one of the key strategies to achieve universal health coverage in the country. After the spread of COVID-19 pandemic the government had launched Pradhan Mantri Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PM-ASBY). The PM-ASBY was later renamed as PM-ABHIM for a long-term approach to strengthen the system with the aim to prepare for future pandemics and various other emergencies.
Mr. Konishi said that amid the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to the country’s health system, it is critical to ensure equitable access to non-COVID-19 primary healthcare.
In the urban areas across thirteen states including Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Telangana, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Apart from the pandemic response in addition to interventions through the program it will be implemented to promote utilisation of urban HWCs increasingly along with the comprehensive primary healthcare provision packages that will include non communicable diseases and services of community outreach like awareness raising activities on the available healthcare options especially for women. It is through upgradation of delivery of health information systems for primary through quality assurance mechanisms, digital tools apart from partnership and engagement with the private sector.
Supported by a $2 million technical assistance grant from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, the programme aims to provide support its coordination and implementation, innovation, capacity building, sharing of knowledge and the application of scalable best practices in healthcare system.