In this time of difficulties when many countries of the world are suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Bank agreed to financially aid India by providing $1 billion. The fund will be used to help India to prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and strengthen its public health preparedness. The financial assistance is the largest ever health sector support from the World Bank to India.
The National Health Mission (NHM), National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) will be managing the funds. The aid will cover all the states union territories.
India plans to utilise the funds to address the needs of infected people, population at-risk, healthcare personnel, personnel in emergency service, medical and testing facilities, and national and animal health agencies. Moreover, the fund will be used for procurement of testing kits, strengthening the healthcare facilities, setting up of new isolation wards, measures for infection prevention and control, procurement of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and medicines, especially for district hospitals and designated hospitals for COVID-19.
The World Bank in a statement said, “The project will immediately enable the government of India to scale-up efforts to limit human-to-human transmission, including reducing local transmission of cases and containing the epidemic from progressing further.” Alongside, the government can take steps to strengthen its healthcare facilities for improving its capacity to fight against the viral pandemic and prepare better for emergency situations, the World Bank added.
Junaid Ahmad, Country Director for India, World Bank is working closely with the Government of India to provide urgent and flexible support needed as it fights the spread of COVID-19. “This operation is expected to enhance surveillance capacities, strengthen diagnostic systems, and expand the capacity of laboratories. But, COVID-19 is not only a health challenge. It has deep social and economic implications. In parallel, we are working with equal urgency with the government on social protection programs and economic measures that protect the livelihoods of people,” Ahmad said.