The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have signed a $300 million loan to the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) that is aimed at improving the health status of the country’s urban population. The loan, supporting the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), will be ADB’s first health project in India, towards the Government’s Flagship Program.
Mass urbanisation envisaged under the smart city plans will result in the progress of infrastructure coupled with technology at a remarkable rate. Parallelly, there are also improvements expected in healthcare and hygiene for common people. The massive growth in the number of urban poor is a rising concern which needs immediate address. Disparities in health status between the poor and non-poor in urban areas are large due to the adverse living conditions of the urban poor and their limited access to good health services. There are very few preventive and primary health services in urban areas, while millions of people are faced with poverty every year due to high costs related to health care. ADB is reinforcing the efforts of the Government of India to improve the health of people who live in cities; especially the poor. The loan—Supporting National Urban Health Mission—will be ADB’s first health project in India. It will reinforce government efforts under the NUHM to develop health systems in urban areas that can deliver quality health services and reach the urban poor and vulnerable. It will focus on strengthening primary health care and also promote better coordination between health and urban sectors and opportunities for public-private partnerships.
The project is strengthening health systems across cities and towns to deliver quality health services for all with a particular focus on the poor and vulnerable. The project is improving the networks of primary health facilities in urban areas and introducing a quality assurance mechanism for them. It is also helping improve planning, management and innovation in order to bring the best practices to city clinics and health centres. Significant capacity building mechanisms for learning and innovation are also built in to enhance NUHM systems, management capacity, and implementation processes. This loan from ADB’s Ordinary Capital Resources has a 20-year term including a grace period of five years and an interest rate to be determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR-based lending facility. The financing for the project is being disbursed based on the achievement of results, including more births in health facilities and higher childhood immunization rates.
Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs at India’s Ministry of Finance, signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of India with ADB. Speaking on the issue, Mr. Raj Kumar said “The program’s due attention to achieving convergence across key sectors that affect urban health, and to actively involve urban local bodies in planning and delivery of urban health services, is commendable”. “The use of ADB’s results-based lending modality will strengthen NUHM systems and overall results orientation, while allowing states the flexibility they need to pursue targets that they need locally,” said M. Teresa Kho, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed the agreement on behalf of ADB.
NUHM would endeavour to achieve its goals through:
- Need based city specific urban health care systems to meet the diverse health care needs of the urban poor and other vulnerable sections.
- Institutional mechanisms and management systems to meet health-related challenges of a rapidly growing urban population.
- Partnership with community and local bodies for more proactive involvement in planning, implementation, and monitoring of health activities.
- Availability of resources for providing essential primary health care to urban poor.
- Partnerships with NGOs, for profit and not for profit health service providers and other stakeholders.