The government on Monday signed a $515 million financing agreement with the World Bank to improve health, nutrition and population services in the country.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and World Bank Country Director Qimiao Fan inked the deal on behalf of their respective parties at the Economic Relations Division.
Health minister Mohammad Nasim, state minister for health Zahid Maleque and state minister for finance and planning MA Mannan were also present at the signing ceremony.
The Health Sector Support Project will contribute to the government’s 4th health sector programme and support strengthening the country’s health system, improving quality and coverage of essential services, and enhancing equity, in particular through a focus on service improvements in Sylhet and Chittagong divisions, where key health indicators are below national averages.
“Since 1975, the World Bank has been working closely with the government to improve the country’s health, nutrition and population outcomes. Bangladesh has made notable progress in decreasing maternal and child mortality rates by more than half since 2000, and we are proud to have contributed to these successes,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
“This financing demonstrates the World Bank’s continued commitment to support government’s strategy to further improve the country’s health and nutrition services for all,” added the WB official.
The project will support the government in consolidating progress and filling remaining gaps in basic health services, including provision of quality delivery care in public health facilities for over 800,000 mothers, as well as basic immunisation coverage for nearly five million children in Sylhet and Chittagong divisions between 2017 and 2022.
The project will also support the government in meeting growing demand for quality health services, and addressing emerging health challenges such as non-communicable diseases and urban health.
Besides, as the government’s health spending increases, the project will help strengthen the country’s management of its health system, including procurement financial management systems.
“The government’s 4th Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Programme aims to ensure that all Bangladeshis will have access to quality and equitable health care in a healthy and safe living environment,” said ERD Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam.
“The overall programme, including this project, will set a foundation towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including universal health coverage,” he said.
The project is financed by a $500 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm, and a $15 million grant from the Global Financing Facility.
The IDA credits are interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a six-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 per cent.