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PRESS RELEASE May 28, 2019

New World Bank project will strengthen Family Healthcare Services and increase access to primary care in Paraguay

WASHINGTON DC, May 28, 2019 - The World Bank approved today a US$115 million loan to expand the primary healthcare services in Paraguay strengthening Family Health Care Centers (Unidades de Salud de la Familia, FHCC) and micro healthcare networks. It seeks to improve access to maternal and child care services as well as treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cervical and breast cancer, and communicable diseases such as HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis.

"The project will allow us to move towards universal access to healthcare by putting people at the center and at the same time promoting compliance with the goals we have set for ourselves as a Government, particularly in terms of optimizing processes of drug logistics and the effective connection between the different levels of care, with emphasis on diseases that have the greatest prevalence in our population," said Julio Mazzoleni, Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare.

The main beneficiaries will be women of childbearing age and children, as well those affected by prevalent diseases. They represent close to 4.6 million Paraguayans, about 70 percent of the country's population.

"Strengthening the capacity and quality of the primary health care network is vital to guarantee equal access to quality healthcare. The project seeks to improve and expand the existing infrastructure, and also promote greater access to these services for the population," said Jesko Hentschel, Director of the World Bank for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The project will be implemented at national level, with special emphasis on the Central, Paraguarí, Cordillera and Amambay departments. In these localities, 152 new FHCCs will be built, the 114 existing units will be renovated, and 10 district hospitals will be upgraded. The new centers will be equipped with all the necessary infrastructure, including medical equipment, furniture and information and communication technology. The project will also strengthen the skills of health personnel working in primary care through training on the proper management of the health conditions and diseases mentioned. Finally, the project will assist in the implementation of a more transparent system to be able to work with Local Health Councils, seeking to link these to the fulfillment of health goals.

Although Paraguay has promoted actions to move towards universal health coverage, access gaps remain a challenge. The deficit of primary health care infrastructure, estimated at 800 FHCCs, continues to be a critical factor for access to care. The project approved yesterday will help to reduce this gap so that more Paraguayans can access timely, affordable, and quality primary health care.

The project is part of the World Bank Country Partnership Framework with Paraguay for the 2019-2023 period that supports the country's efforts to move towards a sustainable economic model and decisively support investment in human capital (health, education, and social protection), as well as institutional strengthening, and improvements in the fight against corruption.

The US$115 million loan comes from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank Group's institution for middle-income countries, and is reimbursable in 31.5 years, including an eight-year grace period.

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Ruth González Llamas
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