It will benefit over 256 million urban dwellers including 51 million from slum areas

The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $300 million loan agreement to strengthen and improve access to comprehensive primary health care in urban areas of 13 states.

The loan agreement for 'Strengthening Comprehensive Primary Health Care and Pandemic Preparedness in Urban Areas Program' was signed on Tuesday.

It will benefit over 256 million urban dwellers including 51 million from slum areas, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Wednesday.

The program will be implemented in urban areas across 13 states:
Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal.

It supports the Government of India’s key health initiatives - Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWC) and Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PM-ASBY), which has been renamed as Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM).

It will do so by expanding availability and access to quality primary health care services particularly for vulnerable populations in urban areas, the health ministry said.

Launched in 2018, the Ayushman Bharat program aims to improve access to comprehensive primary health care as a key strategy to achieve universal health coverage in India.

With the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that put additional pressure on the country’s health system, the government launched PM-ASBY - later renamed as PM-ABHIM in October 2021 - to adopt a long-term approach to system strengthening to prepare for future pandemics and other emergencies.

Interventions through the program promote increased utilization of urban HWCs with provision of comprehensive primary health care packages including noncommunicable diseases and community outreach services such as awareness raising activities on health care options, particularly for women.

Delivery and health information systems for primary health care will be upgraded through digital tools, quality assurance mechanisms, and engagement and partnership with the private sector, the health ministry pointed out.

The programme is supported by a $2 million technical assistance grant from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to provide support for programme implementation and coordination, capacity building, innovation, knowledge sharing and application of scalable best practices across the healthcare system.

Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, Rajat Kumar signed the agreement for the Government of India.

Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission Takeo Konishi signed for the ADB.