Sri Lanka and the World Bank yesterday (23) signed a $200 million loan agreement to help increase the use and the quality of Sri Lanka’s primary healthcare services.
The Primary Healthcare System Strengthening Project will benefit the people in Sri Lanka by increasing the quality of primary health care services and focusing on the detection and management of non-communicable diseases, responding to the changing health needs of the population and targeting the most vulnerable, the World Bank stated.
Dr Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives and Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Dr R.H.S. Samaratunga signed the project on behalf of the World Bank and the Government of Sri Lanka respectively.
“People are at the centre 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 healthcare levels.”
According to the World Bank’s release, 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, release further said.
“The project should serve as a catalyst for revitalizing Sri Lanka’s primary healthcare system and preparing the country to address the future health sector challenges,” said Kanako Yamashita-Allen, Senior Health Specialist and Task Team Leader.
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’, meanwhile, 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 release further said.