India, AIIB sign agreement for USD 500 million COVID-19 support
This is the first health sector support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to India.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has signed an agreement with the Indian government to provide funds worth USD 500 million to support India’s “COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project”. The project will help India scale up its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen the nation’s public health preparedness.
This is the first health sector support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to India. The support will cover all States and Union Territories across India.
It will help address the needs of infected people, the high-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel and service providers, medical and testing facilities, and national and animal health agencies.
The financial assistance is expected to help the government in its efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus in the nation and strengthen its health care preparedness. According to AIIB vice-president (Investment Operations) DJ Pandian, building a resilient health system that can effectively treat COVID-19 patients and prevent the spread of the infection is the immediate priority. The AIIB funding will address this need and strengthen India’s health care capacity to effectively manage future disease outbreaks.
COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project
• The project was prepared in record time due to the efforts put in by the officials from the Finance and Health Ministries and the AIIB.
• The project will enable India to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 in the nationby providing immediate support to enhance disease detection capacities, such as increasing the procurement of PPE, oxygen delivery systems, medicines and build resilient health systems to provide core public health, prevention and patient management functions to manage COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks.
• It will also support research on COVID-19 by Indian and other global institutions working in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and address the significant negative externalities that are expected in the event of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak and strengthen public structures for the coordination and management of the project.
• The main beneficiaries of the project will include the infected people, high-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel. It also benefit service providers at medical and testing facilities including both public and private and the public and animal health agencies engaged in India’s COVID-19 response.
• It will support and help strengthen India’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Program, revamp infectious disease hospitals, district, civil, general and medical college hospitals, and build a network of high containment Biosafety Level 3 laboratories.
• The project will also help develop capacity and systems to detect existing and emerging zoonoses, support biomedical research on COVID-19 by Indian institutions, and upgrade viral research and diagnostic laboratories for testing and research. Around 75 percent of new infectious diseases begin with human-to-animal contact, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and SARS.
• It will also provide support in addressing potential significant negative externalities in the event of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak, including comprehensive health awareness and behaviour change campaigns on hygiene practices, wearing masks, social distancing, and mental health and psychological services for vulnerable communities.
The “COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project” is being jointly funded by the World Bank and the AIIB. While the World Bank will be providing USD 1 billion, the AIIB will be providing USD 500 million.
The project will be implemented by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), National Health Mission (NHM) and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) under the Union Health Ministry.