Govt, WB ink $515m loan deal for health sector

Economic Relations Division secretary Kazi Shafiqul Azam and World Bank country director Qimiao Fan shake hands after signing a $515 million loan deal to improve the country’s health, nutrition and population services under the 4th health sector programme. Health minister Mohammad Nasim, state minister for health Zahid Maleque and state minister for finance and planning MA Mannan were present. — New Age photo

The World Bank will provide $515 million to Bangladesh to improve the country’s health, nutrition and population services under the 4th health sector programme.
Economic Relations Division of the finance ministry and the WB on Monday singed a financing agreement for the project being implemented from January 2017 to June 2022.
Health minister Mohammad Nasim, state minister for health Zahid Maleque and state minister for finance and planning MA Mannan attended the agreement signing ceremony held at NEC auditorium at Agargaon in Dhaka.
ERD secretary Kazi Shafiqul Azam and WB country director Qimiao Fan signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.
Of the amount, $500 million interest-free credit will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the WB’s concessional lending arm, and a $15 million grant from the Global Financing Facility.
Bangladesh will have to repay the credit in 38 years including a 6-year grace period and 0.75 per cent service charge will be applicable for the credit.
The total cost of the programme titled 4th health, population and nutrition sector programme is $14.7 billion.
Health and family welfare ministry will implement the programme aiming to ensure quality and equitable healthcare services for all citizens.
The programme will also support strengthening the country’s health system, improving 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.
The project will also work to achieve some results including improvement of the situation related to under-5 mortality rate, neonatal mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio, total fertility rate, prevalence of stunting among under-5 children, prevalence of hypertension among adult population and increase the total health expenditure financed from public sector.
Nasim said that the ministry was working to improve overall health and nutrition situation in the country and the programme will help the government to achieve the goal.
Shafiqul said that the ministries would have to improve the efficiency in utilisaiton of project assistance as the unused foreign loan and aids in the pipeline stood at $36 billion.
This year, the ERD will also sign agreements for another $12 billion loans, he said.
So, financing will not be a problem for the project implementing agencies, rather implementation will be important, he added.

Source: New Age

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