The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $110 million loan as additional financing for the ongoing Health System Enhancement Project that is improving the primary health care system (PHC) in Sri Lanka.
The Health System Enhancement Project, approved in October 2018, is upgrading primary medical care units and division hospitals in Central, North Central, Sabaragamuwa, and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka. It is strengthening health information systems and disease surveillance capacity, as well as supporting policy development, project management, and capacity building in the sector. The project also provided crucial resources for the immediate emergency response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in March–April 2020.
“Health care services and facilities are more important now than ever. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has revealed vulnerabilities in the country’s health care system and we need to address these issues,” said ADB Health Specialist for South Asia Dai-Ling Chen. “This additional investment will further improve the efficiency and equity of health care in Sri Lanka and expand access to primary and secondary level of health services.”
The additional financing will replenish reallocated funds from the ongoing project used for COVID-19 response. This will be used to complete the development of 42 PHC facilities; renovate 127 field health centers; increase nutrition services to mothers and children, especially the most vulnerable groups; and encourage the use of PHC facilities. It will also develop selected secondary care cluster apex hospitals to ensure the continuity of service delivery from primary to secondary care.
The scope of the project has been expanded to provide additional support to include and strengthen the country’s COVID-19 response. It will scale up the capacity of at least 25% of secondary and tertiary level hospitals to treat and manage COVID-19. It will upgrade the 1990 Suwa Seriya ambulance system in all districts.
New initiatives will be introduced such as the scaling up of infrastructure, information technology systems, and e-learning facilities in the National Institute of Health Sciences and nine regional training centers. It will also develop gender-responsive PHC service, hospital design, and PHC training modules.
ADB will provide an additional $3 million from its Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction on a grant basis to improve the efficiency of Sri Lanka’s prehospital ambulance system.