New Delhi, March 28, 2011—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are working with the government of Bihar state to find ways to make government payments to health workers and health beneficiaries more efficient, transparent, and timely.
Government officials, health practitioners, banks and service providers discussed the findings of a statewide study of the payment processes associated with state health programs. The study recommends that health records be maintained in a centralized system called the Health Operations Payment Engine (HOPE). Such a system would provide a variety of benefits—not only to health workers and beneficiaries but also to the state.
For example, to help achieve the objectives of health programs, the state would be able to compute incentive payments according to program guidelines. The HOPE system would also provide an integrated platform that would allow payment service providers and banks to credit incentive payments directly into the accounts of beneficiaries, health workers, and private health care providers.
“Efficient, transparent, and accountable payment mechanisms are needed to enforce program guidelines, specifically ones relating to phased payments for beneficiaries,” said P.K. Pradhan, Special Secretary and Mission Director of India’s National Rural Health Mission. “IFC’s proposed solution, HOPE, should be taken beyond Bihar to other Indian states.”
Jennifer Isern, IFC’s Head of Financial Sector Advisory for South Asia said, “With this proposed solution that will ensure timely, accurate payments, IFC hopes to bring much-needed health support closer to those who need it most. Our diagnostic in Bihar identified key opportunities to improve health payments that could be expanded across India.”
The study, conducted over three weeks in five state districts, was led jointly by IFC, the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, and Bihar’s State Health Society. It included interviews and focus-group discussions with more than 285 people including health officials at the state, district and block levels, health workers, health program beneficiaries, private providers, technical experts, development organizations, and financial service providers.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010.