ADB to Help Boost Urban Health in Bangladesh

News Release | 31 May 2005

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (31 May 2005) - ADB will help improve the health status of Bangladesh's urban population, especially the poor, in six city corporations and five municipalities by providing a package of high-impact health services, through a US$40 million loan and grant package approved today.

The project will build on the gains of the first Urban Primary Health Care Project in Bangladesh and will cover all the six city corporations of Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, and Barisal, and five municipalities of Bogra, Comilla, Sirajgonj, Madhabdi, and Savar.

A $30 million loan from ADB's concessional Asian Development Fund (ADF) will continue to contract out primary health care services to nongovernment organizations (NGOs) through partnerships established under the first Urban Primary Health Care Project.

The project will ensure that at least 30% of these preventive, promotive, and curative health services will target poor people earning less than Tk700 per month. Nutritional supplements will also be given to severely malnourished women and children.

The project will likewise support the construction of 64 health facilities, upgrading of 4, and purchase of 12 apartments and/or buildings for primary health care facilities in Dhaka.

Community-run latrines and community-based solid-waste disposal will be piloted to improve environmental health, and clinical waste management systems will be upgraded.

"The project will lead to health improvements that will boost productivity and learning at school, and make savings on out-of-pocket expenditure on health care," says Sekhar Bonu, an ADB Health Specialist.

"With women and children to constitute more than three quarters of those benefiting, child and maternal mortality will be reduced, thus helping Bangladesh achieve the Millennium Development Goals."

A $10 million grant, also from the ADF, will support various HIV/AIDS and infectious disease control activities, $2.5 million of which will be for operating 24 HIV/AIDS testing and counseling centers and $5 million for the control of reproductive tract and sexually transmitted infections (STI). The remaining $2.5 million is for marketing and knowledge campaigns for HIV/AIDS, STI, and infectious disease control.

"Failure to provide urban primary health care can have serious negative consequences beyond urban areas because infectious diseases can spread from urban to rural areas," adds Mr. Bonu.

"Rapidly growing urban slums without adequate primary health care may lead to epidemics of emerging or reemerging communicable diseases."

The total cost of the project is about $90 million equivalent, of which the Government of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development will contribute a $25 million grant, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency will provide a $5 million grant, both to be administered by ADB.

The United Nations Population Fund will provide cofinancing with a $2 million grant, and the Government of Bangladesh will contribute the balance of $18 million equivalent.

ADB's loan, which covers one third of the total project cost, carries a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years. Interest is charged at 1.0% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% per annum thereafter.

The local government division of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development, and Cooperatives is the executing agency for the project, with city corporations and municipalities serving as the implementing agencies. The project is due for completion in December 2011.