World Bank approves US$ 200 mn to improve primary healthcare services

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a $200 million loan to help increase the use and the quality of Sri Lanka’s primary healthcare services.

The Primary Healthcare System Strengthening Project builds on years of experience and lessons in Sri Lanka’s health sector and will focus on detection and management of non-communicable diseases in high-risk population groups, responding to the needs of the poorest of the population, a press release said.

Sri Lanka’s health system has demonstrated remarkable performance in achieving universal coverage with maternal and child healthcare services and effective control of infectious diseases. But the country has the fastest ageing population in South Asia, with the population over 60 expected to double in the next 25 years. This demographic transition has an impact on Sri Lanka’s health profile: 87 percent of deaths in Sri Lanka are caused by non-communicable diseases. Out of pocket spending on health is at 38 percent of the total health expenditure, which is most burdensome for the poor.

“People are at the center of this project which aims to bring better healthcare services, particularly to the poor and the vulnerable,” said Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank County Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “It is designed to detect symptoms and provide remedial measures, including the promotion of healthy lifestyles to better manage the burden of non-communicable diseases at the community and primary health care levels.”

The Ministry of Health will implement the project, which is designed around the recently released positioning paper ‘Reorganizing Primary Health Care in Sri Lanka: Preserving Our Progress, Preparing Our Future’. The World Bank will provide technical and financial support to implement the primary healthcare system reorganization and strengthening and provide implementation support through innovation grants.

“The project should serve as a catalyst for revitalizing Sri Lanka’s Primary Health Care system and preparing the country to address the future health sector challenges,” Senior Health Specialist and Task Team Leader Kanako Yamashita-Allen said.

The project, financed by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development loan, with a maturity of 33 years including a grace period of 6 years, will be implemented during a five-and-a-half-year period.

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