ADB Approves Additional $110 Million for Bangladesh Urban Health Services

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The Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved additional loan financing of $110 million for a project that is improving access to urban primary healthcare services in Bangladesh through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

ADB's support to the government-led Urban Primary Health Care Services Delivery Project approved in 2012 has been filling a vacuum created by the lack of urban public primary healthcare by increasing access to quality services, especially for poor households, said ADB Social Sector Specialist Mr. Brian Chin. The new financing will focus on strengthening the service delivery system, building on the results of the 2012 project and two previous projects, to meet unmet demands and develop self-reliance in the running of the system.

The project is recognized as an innovative model of partnership between the government, which contracts out health service delivery, and service providers (mainly nongovernment organizations). As originally financed in 2012 with a $50 million ADB loan and $20 million cofinancing, it is one of the largest PPP projects for primary healthcare delivery in South Asia.

Previously, ADB provided a $40 million loan and $4.5 million cofinancing for a first project to support health services in four cities during 1998�2005. A second project followed in 2005�2012 backed by a $30 million loan, $10 million grant, and $30 million cofinancing widening the support to six cities and five municipalities.

As originally envisaged, the 2012 project covers 10 cities and four municipalities representing about 17% of the total 57 million urban population. According to a review in 2015, the project has been providing services to more than 23 million clients, of whom 74% were female, and has constructed a network of 180 health facilities and 224 satellite clinics. The project is also building experience in the management and contracting of health service delivery, as well as monitoring and evaluation systems.

The review concluded that the project merits continuation and expansion to ensure that the growing demand for healthcare in urban areas is met.

The additional financing will cover the cost of a 5-year extension to assist the government to strengthen local health systems and continue to expand the PPP system of contracting to service providers. It expands coverage to an additional city and 10 municipalities, and will build eight additional reproductive healthcare centers and 24 primary healthcare centers.

The sustainability of health services will be ensured through a series of management, institutional, and staffing reforms. The new financing will build on previous efforts toward climate change mitigation by adopting solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and flood drainage.

The Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund, financed by the Rockefeller Foundation and the governments of Switzerland and the United Kingdom, will provide a $2 million grant, to be administered by ADB. The Bangladesh government will contribute $30 million toward the cost of the additional financing, while the United Nations Population Fund will provide $1.5 million in-kind technical support. The project completion date is March 2023.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members�48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.

Source: Asian Development Bank