DHAKA, August 28, 2017— The government of Bangladesh today signed a $515 million financing agreement with the World Bank to improve the country’s health, nutrition, and population services.
The Health Sector Support Project will contribute to the government’s fourth health sector program, and support strengthening the country’s health system, improving quality and 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.
“Since 1975, the World Bank has been working closely with the government to improve the country’s health, nutrition and population outcomes. Bangladesh has made notable progress in cutting maternal and child mortality rates by more than half since 2000, and we are proud to have contributed to these successes,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. “This financing demonstrates the World Bank’s continued commitment to support government’s strategy to further improve the country’s health and nutrition services for all.”
The project will support the government in consolidating progress and filling remaining gaps in basic health services, including provision of quality delivery care in public health facilities for over 800,000 mothers as well as basic immunization coverage for nearly 5 million children in Sylhet and Chittagong divisions between 2017 and 2022.
The project will also support the government in meeting growing demand for quality health services, and addressing emerging health challenges such as non-communicable diseases and urban health. Further, as the government’s health spending increases, the project will help strengthen the country’s management of its health system, including procurement financial management systems.
“The government’s Fourth Health, Population, and Nutrition Sector Program aims to ensure that all Bangladeshis will have access to quality and equitable health care in a healthy and safe living environment,” said Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh. “The overall program, including this project, will set a foundation towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including universal health coverage.”
The agreement was signed by Kazi Shofiqul Azam and Qimiao Fan on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh and the World Bank, respectively, at the Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance. Mr. Mohammad Nasim, Honorable Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Zahid Maleque, Honorable State Minister for Health and Family Welfare, and Mr. M. A. Mannan, Honorable State Minister for Finance and Planning, were also present.
The project is financed by a $500 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm, and a $15 million grant from the Global Financing Facility. The IDA credits are interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent. The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed over $26 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country. In recent years, Bangladesh has been among the largest recipients of the World Bank’s interest-free credits.