To help India to prevent, detect, and respond to COVID-19 outbreak and strengthen the preparedness, World Bank has approved a $1 billion fund. This is one of the largest ever health sector support from the multilateral lending institution to India.
This fund will be managed by National Health Mission (NHM), National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), and The India Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which all work under the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the fund will cover all states and union territories (UTs).
The sole purpose is to address the needs of the infected people, at-risk populations, medical and testing facilities, medical and emergency personal and service providers, and national health agencies.
The fund will be utilized for purchasing of the new testing kits to construct new isolation wards – including turning hospital bets into intensive care unit beds, purchasing of personal protection equipment, ventilators, and medicines, particularly for district hospitals. Also, interventions to strengthen the health system will be set up to improve the country’s capacity to be better equipped and respond to the emerging outbreaks, including the transmission between humans and animals.
India has imposed a nationwide lock-down of 21 days, which will be active till 14th April so as to restrict the spread of the virus.
Last week the Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had rolled out Rs. 1.7 trillion relief packages to mitigate the economic damage likely to be caused by the coronavirus outbreak and to tackle the loss of livelihood of millions of poor people hit by the unprecedented lockdown.
Mr. Junaid Ahmad, the World Bank Country Director for India, has stated that the bank was working closely with the Indian Government to provide urgent and flexible support to the country as it fights the spread of COVID-19.
The project is supposed to enhance the resilience of India’s health system to provide core public health prevention and patient care to better manage COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks. It will also help strengthen India’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Program, revamp the infectious disease hospitals, civil, general, and medical college hospitals and build a network of high containment Biosafety level 3 laboratories.