DHAKA, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank has approved a total of 570 million U.S. dollars for two projects in Bangladesh to improve health, nutrition, and population services and strengthen the country's public procurement.
The 515 million U.S. dollars Health Sector Support Project will strengthen the country's health system and improve quality and coverage of essential service delivery, with a focus on northeastern Sylhet and southeastern Chittagong divisions, where key health indicators are below national average, said the Washington-based lender in a statement received here Saturday.
The other financing approved together, the 55 million U.S. dollars Digitizing Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement Project, will help Bangladesh improve public procurement performance, including its capacity to monitor implementation of development projects and programs using digital technology, it said.
Bangladesh spends over 7 billion U.S. dollars yearly on public procurement, which constitutes about 70 percent of the annual development program, it added.
According to the bank, the Health Sector Support Project aims to increase the number of mothers receiving quality delivery care in public health facilities to at least 146,000 mothers annually in Sylhet and Chittagong divisions.
It will also provide basic immunization to nearly 5 million children.
As the country experiences demographic changes, the project will help address emerging health challenges, such as non-communicable diseases. In Sylhet and Chittagong divisions, it will support school-based adolescent health and nutrition services.
The project will also help improve financial management and procurement in the sector and develop a robust health information system. It will enable over 7,000 community clinics to provide complete essential data on service delivery, and ensure at least 150 health facilities to each have two accredited midwives on staff.
"The World Bank and the government have been working together for years to improve the health sector and public procurement performance," said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
"These two projects will help further progress towards better health outcomes and optimal use of public resources through an effective public procurement and monitoring system. This will benefit the entire nation and support Bangladesh's journey to becoming an upper middle-income country."
The financing will contribute to the government's 14.7 billion U.S. dollars health sector program between 2017 and 2022. It includes a 15 million U.S. dollars grant from the Global Financing Facility to improve service delivery for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition.
The World Bank helped Bangladesh roll out electronic procurement (e-GP) in four key public procuring entities in 2011, and establish a high capacity data center in 2016 to accommodate increasing demand for electronic procurement. The new project will expand e-GP to all 1,300 government procuring organizations.
The project will help the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division effectively monitor the execution of annual development programs by establishing a single online platform connecting all public sector organizations.
This will capture both financial and physical progress of development work. The project will also engage citizens to monitor quality and progress of development work.
"Since 2002, the World Bank has been supporting Bangladesh to make systemic changes in public procurement to improve the efficiency and transparency of public spending," said Zafrul Islam, World Bank Task Team Leader.
"By institutionalizing electronic procurement and digitizing project implementation monitoring, the project will improve effective utilization of public resources. It will also help enhance accountability of public officials through citizen engagement."