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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved US$20 million from the International Development Association for strengthening Saint Lucia’s public health care system by improving accessibility, efficiency and responsiveness of key health services. “We are pleased to partner with Saint Lucia on this high priority project that

aims to improve health coverage for the people of Saint Lucia and advance progress towards achieving universal health coverage,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank’s Country Director for the Caribbean. “Investing in people through better access to quality health services is essential to enable the next generations reach their full social and economic potential.”

The Heath System Strengthening project will roll-out a package of health services, introduce financial incentives to improve service delivery, as well as upgrade health infrastructure and scale up preparedness and response for public health emergencies. Life expectancy has increased in recent years and reached 75 years in 2015. However, noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases have increased and remain the leading cause of mortality. Recent outbreaks of Chikungunya and cases of Zika have also highlighted gaps in public health preparedness and response.

Specifically, the project aims to ensure that at least 100,000 people on the island of 178,000 inhabitants are registered to the National Health Scheme by the end of the project. It also ensures that at least 60 percent of diabetic and hypertensive patients over 18 years old are treated according to national protocols in public primary health care facilities. In addition, primary health care centers will be equipped to serve as the first point of detection for selected infectious diseases.

The project is financed by a US$ 20 Million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) with a final maturity of 40 years and a 10-year grace period.