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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

World Bank approves $1 billion aid for India

This is the largest ever health sector support from the multilateral lending institution to India

The World Bank has approved $1 billion to help India prevent, detect and respond to the covid-19 pandemic, and strengthen its public health preparedness. This is the largest ever health sector support from the multilateral lending institution to India.

The project 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, and will cover all states and Union territories. It will address the needs of infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel and service providers, medical and testing facilities, besides national animal health agencies.

The fund will be used to procure 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 for district hospitals and designated infectious disease hospitals.

“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," World Bank said in a statement.

Junaid Ahmad, World Bank’s country director for India, said it was working in close partnership with the government to provide urgent and flexible support. “This operation is expected to enhance surveillance capacities, strengthen diagnostic systems, and expand the capacity of laboratories. But, 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."

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