The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a $32 million project to improve management capacity and quality of health services in Mizoram, the World Bank announced in a statement on Thursday.

The project titled “Mizoram Health Systems Strengthening Project” will strengthen the governance and the management structure of the Mizoram health department and its subsidiaries, the statement said.

It will improve the quality and coverage of services delivered by the state government health systems, and invest in a comprehensive Quality Assurance program which would enable quality certification of health facilities, it said.

The key focus will be to strengthen the effectiveness of the state health insurance program; build synergies with the Government of India’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY); and thereby reduce financial barriers in accessing hospital services, prevent catastrophic out of pocket expenditure for health by poor families and expand coverage.

The Mizoram Health Systems Strengthening Project will benefit the people across the state.

It will also benefit healthcare personnel by strengthening their planning and management capabilities along with building their clinical skills and competencies.

Mizoram’s performance on key health outcomes is mixed when compared to national averages, with significant urban-rural disparities and an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

In 2019-20, under-five mortality in Mizoram was 24 per 1,000 live births; and the prevalence of stunting among under-five children was 28.9 per cent which increased marginally from the previous survey (2014-15).

Non-Communicable Diseases in adults account for more than 50 per cent of the disease burden in the state.

“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,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.

“This project will support the state government’s efforts to deliver quality healthcare for the poor and vulnerable and those located in remote areas,” he said.

As a key strategy, the project will move towards a performance-based financing system where Internal Performance Agreements (IPAs) between the state health department and its subsidiaries would foster more accountability at all levels.

This is expected to go a long way in improving the management of the system to deliver quality health services.

The project will invest in infection prevention and control for a more resilient response to future outbreaks, pandemics, and health emergencies.

The project will also focus on the proper management of bio-medical waste management in Mizoram through segregation, disinfection, and collection while safeguarding the environment.

“This project will help the state to improve quality certification at health facilities, enhance human resources, improve health insurance and other innovations,” said Amith Nagaraj Bathula, senior operations officer, and World Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project.

The $32 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a maturity of 14.5 years, including a grace period of 5 years.

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