The State has received approval from the World Bank for a loan of $117.70 million from the International Development Association to “improve the quality of and access to health services” in Tamil Nadu. The loan comes with a 35-year maturity and a grace period of 10 years.

The amount sanctioned on Friday is in addition to the $110.83 million loan sanctioned to the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project on December 16, 2004, stated a World Bank press release.

The World Bank cited the improvements in “the last decade” found by the National Family Health Survey (2005-2006) as the reason for the loan sanction. These improvements were partly due to a significant increase in overall vaccination coverage of children between 12 and 23 months. The State's maternal mortality ratio decreased from 167 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1999 to 111 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006,” it said.

According to Preeti Kudesia, World Bank Senior Public Health specialist and project team leader, “impressive progress in improving maternal and child health and further improvements would be achieved by improvement in the overall quality of care, particularly for provision of comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care.”

Under the project in the last four years, 80 comprehensive emergency obstetrics and neonatal centres were established across the State, thus improving access to quality care for pregnant women and infants.

Mobile outreach services had provided sickle cell anaemia screening intervention and patient counselling services.

Health Secretary V.K. Subburaj told The Hindu: “We had sent a proposal for Rs.600 crore. The funds will help continue the existing projects and help to improve taluka hospitals. We had proposed introducing health management information systems through computerisation of the hospitals and the medical colleges. The fund will be used for the introduction of biometric cards project for hospital staff.”

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012