The World Bank has approved $1 billion to support India in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is expected to boost the country’s preparedness against the virus by strengthening its public healthcare infrastructure. This is the largest fund awarded by the bank for supporting public health to India and it will be managed by three institutions that work under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare — National Health Mission (NHM), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Centre for Disease Control.
The fund will be utilised to tackle the pandemic by addressing the needs of the people that are infected with the deadly virus, health practitioners and emergency service providers, vulnerable population and healthcare institutions of the country. It will also be utilised to procure different equipment such as testing kits, developing isolation wards, personal protective equipment, medicines, ventilators, especially in the district hospitals.
In a statement, the World Bank 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.” The bank also added, “In parallel, interventions to strengthen the health system will be rolled out to improve the country’s capacity to respond to the covid-19 epidemic and be better prepared to respond to emerging disease outbreaks, including transmission between humans and animals.”
The fund by the international body is expected to boost the efforts of the government to curb the spread of the virus. Last week, the government had issued INR 1.7 trillion package to tackle the adverse impact of the virus on the country’s economy. The outbreak of coronavirus has affected million of poor and daily wage earners in India due to the 21-day lockdown. The package is framed under the newly formed Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana which aims to help out urban and rural poor including the migrant workers and farmers.