The Indian government and the World Bank have signed a $40 million project to improve the quality of health services in Meghalaya and strengthen the state’s capacity to handle future health emergencies, including the covid-19 pandemic.
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 finance ministry in a statement said, “All 11 districts of the state will benefit from the project. It will also benefit health sector staff at the primary and secondary levels by strengthening their planning and management capabilities and building their clinical skills. The project will enable women to better utilize healthcare services at the community level,”
The finance ministry further said strengthening and expanding health care systems is a priority for the government and 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,” it added.
The agreement was signed by Rajat Kumar Mishra, additional secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the government of India, Ramkumar S, Joint Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare on behalf of the Government of Meghalaya; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.
The project will help strengthen the effectiveness of Meghalaya’s health insurance program known as the Megha Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) – which currently covers 56% of the households. With its merger into the national Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY), MHIS now plans to offer a more comprehensive package and cover 100% of the households. “This will reduce barriers to accessing hospital services and preventing catastrophic out-of-pocket costs for poor families,” the finance ministry said.
Improved health services may also lead to an incremental increase in bio-medical waste. Any improper management of wastes including bio-medical waste and other hazardous wastes such as plastic waste and e-waste poses environmental risks. 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.