The fund 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
The central government and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Friday signed a $500 million “COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project" to help India to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This is the first ever health sector support from the Bank to India.
“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," the finance ministry said in a statement.
The project which will be implemented by the National Health Mission (NHM), the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will be jointly finance by the World Bank and AIIB with contribution of $1 billion and $500 million respectively. World Bank has already approved $1 billion funding for the project last month. The Asian Development Bank also last month approved $1.5 billion loan for India to support the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, focusing on immediate priorities such as disease containment and prevention, as well as social protection for the poor and economically vulnerable sections of the society, especially women and disadvantaged groups.
The finance ministry said the AIIB-World Bank project will enable the government to slow and limit as much as possible the spread of covid-19 by providing immediate support to enhance disease detection capacities by scaling up procurement of personal protective equipment, oxygen delivery systems and medicines; build resilient health systems to provide core public health, prevention and patient management functions to manage covid-19 and future disease outbreaks; support research on the virus by Indian and other global institutions working in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research; address significant negative externalities expected in the event of a widespread pandemic; and strengthen public structures for the coordination and management of the project.
“The primary project beneficiaries will be infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel, service providers at medical and testing facilities (both public and private), and public and animal health agencies engaged in India’s covid-19 response," the finance ministry said.
D.J. Pandian, vice-president (Investment Operations) at AIIB said that building a resilient health system that can effectively treat covid-19 patients and prevent its spread is the immediate priority. “This funding will address this need and strengthen India’s capacity to effectively manage future disease outbreaks," he added.
The project will help strengthen India’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Program, revamp infectious disease hospitals, district, civil, general and medical college hospitals, and build a network of high containment Biosafety Level 3 laboratories.
About 75% 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 statement added.