India has secured a $170 million policy-based loan from the Asian Development Bank to bolster the nation's readiness for health crises, according to the Union Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Finance highlighted that this loan will consolidate and fortify India's health system, enhancing its ability to respond to future pandemics. The loan agreement, titled 'Strengthened and Measurable Actions for Resilient and Transformative Health Systems Programme (Subprogramme 1)', was signed on Tuesday by Juhi Mukherjee, Joint Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, on behalf of the Government of India, and Mio Oka, Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission.

The ADB program is designed to support the government's initiatives in enhancing disease surveillance, ensuring the adequacy and quality of health professionals, and promoting climate-resilient public health infrastructure and service delivery. Mio Oka, a World Bank official, noted that this policy-based loan will aid the government in addressing policy, legislative, and institutional governance gaps, contributing to India's objective of universal access to quality and affordable healthcare.

The program is aligned with major government initiatives such as the National Health Policy 2017, Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM), the National One Health Mission, and efforts to strengthen human resources for health (HRH). Key reform areas include enhancing disease surveillance and multisectoral response, strengthening human resources for health, and expanding climate-resilient public health infrastructure and innovative service delivery.

The initiative will also enhance disease surveillance systems by establishing laboratory networks for infectious disease surveillance at various levels and building robust data systems to monitor and coordinate national health programs for vulnerable groups. It will improve the governance of India's One Health approach and its multisector response to emerging infectious diseases. ADB will support policy reforms to ensure adequate and competent health professionals, including legislation to regulate education, services, and professional conduct.

The ministry noted that the program will facilitate the management of integrated public health laboratories in five states and district critical care hospital blocks, improving services for infectious diseases and critical illnesses. It will also aid in establishing green and climate-resilient healthcare facilities and support innovative solutions for service delivery.