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The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a US$80 million loan to help Vietnam improve the quality of, and access to, basic health services in 13 provinces, with a focus on poor areas of the country. The Investing and Innovating for Grassroots Health

Service Delivery Project is designed to enable commune health stations (CHS) to start detecting and managing non-communicable diseases while strengthening their existing role in controlling infectious diseases and providing essential maternal, newborn and child health care services. About 9.2 million people are expected to directly benefit from investments under this project.

To do this the project will provide CHS with equipment, training, and quality management tools, while upgrading infrastructure to meet national standards. The project will also support policy reforms that improve the financial sustainability and quality of services, and pilot innovations.

“While health outcomes and access to basic health services have improved tremendously for the general population, disadvantaged groups, especially ethnic minorities and those living in poor, remote, and mountainous provinces, still lag behind.” said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam.“This project is designed to target these groups by closing remaining gaps in access to basic healthcare while expanding new services to address emerging demographic and epidemiological challenges.”

The 13 provinces covered by the project are Ha Giang, Bac Kan, Yen Bai, Son La, and Hoa Binh (in the north); Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Quang Ngai, and Ninh Thuan (in the central region); and Long An, Tra Vinh, Hau Giang, and Bac Lieu (in the south). All but one of the provinces have poverty rates above the national average, and nine of them are in the poorest third of all provinces nationwide.

In addition to the US$80-million loan provided through the International Development Association, the financing package also includes grants totaling US$25 million. These comprise US$17 million from the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents to soften (“buy-down”) the interest rate of the loan, US$5 million from the Integrating Donor-Financed Health Programs Multi-Donor Trust Fund and US$3 million from the Tackling Non-Communicable Diseases Challenges in Low and Middle-Income Countries Multi-Donor Trust Fund. In-kind contributions from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will also be provided.

“The Global Financing Facility (GFF) is pleased to partner with the Government of Vietnam to support its commitment to improving the health and nutrition of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens,” said Monique Vledder, who leads the GFF secretariat. “The government’s leadership in investing in quality primary health care systems will help save and improve the lives of women, children and adolescents for years to come.”