The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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British funds to revive health

Bhubaneswar, April 26: Department for International Development (DFID), a department of the British government, today sanctioned a grant of £50 million for supporting health facilities in the state, a year after a World Bank-supported project to revive health infrastructure in the state ended in a whimper.

“We have received a verbal communication. But I can confirm it only after getting the papers,” health secretary Chinmoy Basu told The Telegraph.

But sources at the DFID’s Delhi office confirmed the move adding that the Orissa Health Sector Plan (OHSP) was cleared by the DFID headquarters in London today.

The £50-million blueprint is spread over a period of 5 years and is an effort to convert the Health Vision 2010 into a plan of action (2005-2010), ensuring equity in access and quality of service delivery to all. The project will identify needs and priorities of the sector, outline the strategies and list specific actions.

The DFID grant comes in the wake of the state government’s failure to spend the Rs 348-crore booty allocated by the World Bank between 1998-99 and 2005-06 as part of its commitment to the Orissa Health System Development Project. The money sought to develop health infrastructure, buy equipment and appoint manpower at rural primary health centres. The tenure of the grant ended in June 2006, but the state could spent only Rs 279 crore out.

The DfID grant will help the state, which has the highest infant mortality rate and poor health indicators like high maternal mortality rate, to reduce mortality and morbidity, a senior official of the health department said on condition of anonymity.

“We had been working on the OHSP since the last one and a half years. We took into consideration all requirements for the health sector and sources of funding, including the National Rural Health Mission. The gaps in funding were located and DFID came forward to bridge them,” the official added.

The DFID grant would support the government’s intention to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities on the basis of region, gender and vulnerable social groups, the official further said.

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