A Rs 300 crore agreement signed by the Indian government, Meghalaya government and the World Bank seeks to give a much-needed facelift to healthcare systems in the state.
The agreement for the Meghalaya Health Systems Strengthening Project was signed on Thursday between the parties.
The project, billed at a cost of $40 million, will be implemented to improve the quality of health services and strengthen the state’s capacity to handle future health emergencies, such as those made all too apparent by the Covid-19 pandemic. It also aims to strengthen the Megha Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS), which currently covers 56 per cent of households.
“The Meghalaya Health Systems Strengthening Project will enhance the management and governance capabilities of the state and its health facilities; expand the design and coverage of the state’s health insurance program; improve the quality of health services through certification and better human resource systems, and enable efficient access to medicines and diagnostics,” the Union Finance Ministry said in a statement.
The project, which will benefit all 11 districts, will also help health sector staff at the primary and secondary levels by strengthening their planning and management capabilities and building their clinical skills.
The Department of Economic Affairs stated: “Strengthening and expanding health care systems is a priority for the government of India. The project will enhance the management and quality of health services in the state. It will also help expand the coverage of health services and make it accessible and affordable to the poor and vulnerable in the state.”
With its merger into the national Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY), MHIS now plans to offer a more comprehensive package and cover 100 per cent of the households. This will reduce barriers to accessing hospital services and preventing catastrophic out-of-pocket costs for poor families.
“The project will invest in infection prevention and control for a more resilient response to future outbreaks, pandemics and health emergencies,” the statement added.
It was noted that an improvement in health services will also increase the amount of bio-medical waste generated. This, if not managed properly, could be hazardous to the environment and public health.
“The project will invest in improving the overall ecosystem for bio-medical waste management (both solid and liquid waste). It will include segregation, disinfection, and collection while safeguarding the environment and improving the quality of health service and patient safety,” the Finance Ministry further said.