NEW DELHI, March 23, 2017 – The Government of India, the Government of Uttarakhand and the World Bank today signed a credit agreement for the US$100 million Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project to improve access to and quality of health care services in all 13 districts of Uttarakhand, a mountain state richly endowed with natural resources.
The agreement for the Project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; Neeraj Kharwal, Additional Secretary, Health and Project Director for the Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project, on behalf of the Government of Uttarakhand; and Hisham Abdo Kahin, Operations Manager and Acting Country Director, World Bank India, on behalf of the World Bank.
"The Project will benefit the residents of Uttarakhand, in particular those residing in the hilly and remote areas with poor availability of health services. Successful implementation of the project will not only have a positive impact on the underserved population (women, elderly, and communities living in remote areas) but also improve the state’s disaster response capabilities,” said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
The population in the remote areas continue to be underserved, as public and private providers are concentrated in the state’s urban and plain areas. Most public health facilities in the middle and upper mountainous areas are unable to functional optimally or at the required level of quality, because of large-scale vacancies of health staff, as deployment and retention in such geographically remote areas has proven to be extremely difficult. In 2013, 48 percent of the posts of general duty medical officers and 75 percent of the specialists’ posts were vacant, despite a liberal government policy to hire contractual doctors and to pay them incentives for remote area postings. The state’s difficult terrain and its susceptibility to natural disasters further adds to the challenges faced by the state’s health system.
A key focus will be to finance innovative engagements with private health care providers, expand their role in meeting the unmet health access needs of the state’s population, strengthen the managerial capacity of state health directorates, improve their information systems, and focus on monitoring and research. The project also aims to reduce the financial risk for its citizens and make affordable, quality health care available to all.
“While Uttarakhand performs better than the national average on many key health indicators, access to quality health services is a challenge, particularly in remote mountainous areas,” said Hisham Abdo Kahin, Operations Manager and Acting Bank Country Director, World Bank, India. “To help address these challenges, the primary focus of the Project will be to make a sustainable change in the availability of quality healthcare services, particularly for the poor and underserved population.”