The World Bank (WB) has approved two loans totaling US$250 million to improve healthcare and foster innovation in Vietnam.
The funds, which will come from WB's lending arm, the International Development Association, will be spent on the Northeast and Red River Delta Regions Health System Support (NORRED) and the Fostering Innovation through Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) projects.
As much as $150 million will go to the NORRED project, which aims to provide better health services for 15 million people, especially women and children, and by increasing the efficiency and equity of hospital services in 13 provinces in the northeast and Red River Delta regions.
The project will help strengthen the capacity of provincial and district hospitals to deliver better quality hospital services as an alternative to patients seeking care in Hanoi, and it will reduce the financial barriers, especially by supporting the expansion of the national health insurance system to include households above the poverty line.
The $100 million FIRST project will support science, technology and innovation in Vietnam by designing and piloting science, technology and innovation policies, enhancing the effectiveness of research and development (R&D) institutions, and encouraging the development of innovative technology enterprises.
The project's main beneficiaries are R&D institutions and innovative technology enterprises that invest in R&D. Spin-offs and start-up enterprises that are born from R&D institutions or universities will also benefit.
The project will also support the establishment of a public-private partnership research laboratory in the R&D zone of the Hoa Lac High-Tech Park.