Washington: Pakistan is accelerating investments in health care and education to prepare children to reach their productive potential and generate wealth. Today the World Bank committed $200 million for the Punjab Human Capital Investment Project that will strengthen health services and social protection for poor and vulnerable households in select districts in Punjab.
“Pakistan’s strongest asset is its people. Investing at the start of life, especially for girls and women, is essential to empower citizens to thrive,” said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This project will help the Punjab province to invest in early years now to create a productive workforce for the future.”
The project will increase the quality and uptake of health services, including maternal care, immunizations, and childbirths attended by qualified professionals, reaching up to 18 million people. It will provide early childhood education and skills training for young parents and will improve systems to more efficiently manage economic and social inclusion programs.
“There are substantial financial and non-financial barriers to access quality health services, such as expenses to visit health facilities and the burden of household chores and childcare, especially among women in poor households,” said Yoonyoung Cho, Task Team Leader for the project. “The first 1,000 days are the most critical time in a child’s development, thus prioritizing maternal and natal care is integral to their productive capacity and strengthening human capital accumulation in Pakistan.”
The World Bank also approved $85 million in grants and credits from IDA18 Regional Sub-Window for Refugees and Host Communities and $15 million from the Multi-Donor Trust Fund to the Federal Government and the Government of Balochistan to support the strengthening of institutions, delivery of services, and support for livelihoods and enterprise development.
International Development Association (IDA), the concessional financing arm of the World Bank, is financing the Punjab Human Capital Investment Project.
The World Bank in Pakistan
Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950. Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in assistance. The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by the Country Partnership Strategy for FY2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery. The current portfolio has 46 projects with a net commitment of $9.1 billion.