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World Bank to lend $1 billion to India for strengthing pandemic preparedness

News Agencies

New Delhi, Feb 3: The World Bank will provide a $1-billion support to India’s flagship Pradhan Mantri-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) to improve the public healthcare infrastructure across the country.

Of the two complementary loans of $500 million each, one of them will prioritise health service delivery in seven states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

The loan agreement was signed by economic affairs additional secretary Rajat Kumar Mishra and the World Bank’s country director Auguste Tano Kouamé.

“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 population of the states participating in the projects and will generate positive spillovers for other states,” Auguste said in a statement.

India’s performance in health has improved over time. According to the 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, reflecting significant achievements in access to skilled birth attendance, immunisation and other priority services.

“The two programmes leverage the unique strengths of both the Centre and the states to support the development of more accessible, high-quality and affordable health services,” said Lynne Sherburne-Benz, World Bank’s South Asia regional director for Human Development.

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