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Summary

In May 2020, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched the activity “Support to Address Outbreak of COVID-19 and Strengthen Preparedness for Communicable Diseases in South Asia.” With coronavirus cases rapidly climbing throughout the region, the outbreak is undermining health systems and disrupting all aspects of society. To help reduce the pandemic’s negative impacts on health and human capital, ADB launched the project to provide technical assistance in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka as the countries fight and attempt to recover from the pandemic.

ThinkWell supports this project’s work in Bangladesh. With our health expertise, we help develop health policy actions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. Specifically, we support the Government of Bangladesh to improve and develop relevant policy actions with a focus on the response to the Covid-19 crises. We also support the ADB to prepare relevant policy actions for the ADB’s social protection program.

Challenges

The proposed ABD loan advances policy-based lending (PBL) for social protection due to Covid-19 pandemic. This result-based loan mechanism is new for both Bangladesh’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW). Through this project, we are identifying relevant health policy actions in consultation with MOHFW for the loan document.

Approach

ADB is processing a budget loan for the Government of Bangladesh as part of Covid-19 response with a primary focus on social protection programs in Bangladesh. The loan will cover the issues of (i) response to the Covid-19 crises, (ii) improvement in social protection programs and schemes (along with health-related social protections), and (iii) a financial inclusion strategy. ThinkWell’s Bangladesh team will work on the health policy actions that are related to the Covid-19 response and social protection.

ThinkWell’s team collaborates with the ABD team as well as with the MOF and the MOHFW of Bangladesh to identify and formulate reasonable health policy action for the ADB’s proposed loan document. The health policy actions need to be realistic, impactful, and achievable as well as related to social protection programs.

Breaking New Ground

This activity is one of the first of its kind to include health policy actions for loan disbursement in Bangladesh. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is new to developing policy actions for loan documents.

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