Doing its part in reducing the disparity in access to healthcare, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $32 million project. The Mizoram Health Systems Strengthening Project has been envisioned with the aim of improving the quality of health services and the management capacity in Mizoram.
Situated in the North-Eastern region of India, Mizoram, like its sister states, is often lacking in basic healthcare amenities. This project is meant to benefit the deprived and vulnerable areas by supporting the existing Department of Health and Family Welfare (DoHFW). It will improve the quality and the existing coverage of the services presently available.
A central focus of the project is to build an efficient working relationship with the government’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY) while upgrading the state health insurance health program.
When compared to the national average, Mizoram’s performance is a mixed-bag – a pronounced urban-rural inequality and increasing cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The Mizoram government has been increasing its commitment to the health sector, with the 2015-16 budget reports showing health expenditure taking up 8.3% – the highest among the North-Eastern states.
Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India, said, “While Mizoram performs better than the national average on many key health indicators, access to quality health services is a challenge, particularly in rural areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has also adversely impacted the delivery of essential health services. This project will support the state government’s efforts to deliver quality healthcare for the poor and vulnerable and those located in remote areas.”
Like all other Indian states, COVID-19 has put the whole healthcare machinery in disarray. Delivery of essential health services has taken a beating, leaving many without proper medical care. The project’s other focus will be on investing in infection prevention and developing an adaptable response to future outbreaks and emergencies.
Availability of medical services also means the generation of bio-medical wastes. The project also accounts for this development and will invest in the bio-medical waste management system.
Senior Operations Officer and Task Team Leader of the World Bank’s project, Amith Nagaraj Bhatula said, “Lack of investments in improving organizational structures and financing patterns coupled with weak management and accountability is severely affecting the quality of health services in Mizoram. This project will help the state to improve quality certification at health facilities, enhance human resources, improve health insurance and other innovations.”
The $32 million is a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), with a maturity of 14.5 years, including a 5 year grace period. The project will also have a performance-based finance system. Internal Performance Agreements (IPAs) will be signed between the DoHFW and its subsidiaries to promote financial accountability at all levels.