India and the Asian Development Bank have signed a $300 million loan to strengthen and improve access to comprehensive primary health care in urban areas of 13 states that will benefit over 256 million urban dwellers including 51 million from slum areas.
Interventions through the programme will promote increased utilisation of urban HWCs with provision of comprehensive primary health care packages including non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and community outreach services such as awareness raising activities on health care options, particularly for women.
The delivery and health information systems for primary health care will be upgraded through digital tools, quality assurance mechanisms, engagement and partnership with the private sector.
"Ensuring equitable access to non-COVID-19 primary health care is critical amid challenges posed by the pandemic to India's health system," said Takeo Konishi, Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission. He said that the programme complements the government's efforts to bridge the health care gaps by strengthening institutional capacity, operation, and management of urban health and wellness centres at the central, state, and municipal levels.
Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, Rajat Kumar Mishra signed the agreement from India's side for strengthening comprehensive primary healthcare and pandemic preparedness in urban areas programme, while Takeo Konishi signed for ADB.
Rajat Mishra said that the programme supports India's key health initiatives -- Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC) and Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PM-ASBY), which has been renamed as Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) -- by expanding availability and access to quality primary health care services particularly for vulnerable populations in urban areas.
The programme will be implemented in urban areas across Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal.
It is supported by a $2 million technical assistance grant from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to provide support for programme implementation and coordination, capacity building, innovation, knowledge sharing and application of scalable best practices across the healthcare system.
(With inputs from IANS)