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Govt to Institute New Health System Strengthening Project With US $20 Million World Bank Loan

By VOICE Reporter

Says Insurance Essential Benefits Package also to be decided

The Government of Saint Lucia has announced it is embarking on “a Health System Strengthening Project” to improve the accessibility, efficiency and responsiveness of key health services.

According to an official press release, “The project has four components and Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation and External Affairs Honourable Allen Chastanet, explained to the House of Assembly that each component will benefit from the loan (credit) of US$20,000,000 from the International Development Association (IDA).”

The IDB is an affiliate of the World Bank.

The release continues, “Component 1 directly relates to the roll-out of National Health Insurance and focuses on the demand-side of health services by supporting the Government in developing and implement a coverage scheme that would allow the population to receive access to services outlined in the essential benefits package.”

It explains that ““The delivery of an essential benefits package will require improvements in institutional readiness, ensuring that facilities are adequately equipped to deliver the proposed package of services.

“In addition, a focus on results instead of inputs will be necessary to ensure efficiency gains, thereby enabling an expansion of the essential benefits package over time. As such, the supply-side of services will need to be strengthened.”

“The cost of this phase,” according to the statement, “is US$5.5M stated the Prime Minister adding that the Government sees the Design and Implementation of an Essential Benefits Package, as essential to the national dialogue on the roll-out of a national health insurance.”

It says the project “will specifically help the Government define what services would be provided under the package, guide decisions on the population to be covered and the financing the package.”

The release continues: “Component 2 will encompass US$13M of the Project and will focus on the supply-side of service delivery meaning that through Performance Based Financing, incentives will be provided to ensure a focus on results.”

The Prime Minister had said earlier that “In addition, primary care and ancillary facilities (such as laboratory services) would be assessed and equipped to ensure they are able to deliver the services promised through the essential benefits package.”

The statement says “Component 3, at a cost of US $1.5 Million would provide support to overall project management and monitoring and evaluation to gauge project progress, while Component 4 will provide financing for efforts directed at preventing an outbreak from becoming a deadly and costly pandemic.”

This component, it adds, “will only be triggered in the case of a public health emergency.”

The Government says it “anticipates that the entire population will benefit from the project, given the public goods nature of improved public health emergency preparedness and response.”

The statement concluded saying that “The investments made under the Project are meant to complement each other and to result in an overall strengthening of the health system.”

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