IDB signs SR200m rural health plan for India

JEDDAH: The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has signed a SR200 million agreement with an Indian non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide medical care for poor rural people.

HE Khalid Al Aboodi of IDBThe money is part of a SR1 billion donation which was given by a Saudi benefactor to be utilized for the benefit of poor people across the globe. The benefactor earmarked SR200 million for India, thereby funding 15 mobile health clinics, which the IDB will maintain for the first five years.

The rest of the money is reserved for the deployment of 60 mobile clinics in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

The benefactor followed the mechanism of the IDB because of the bank’s impeccable record of work in poverty alleviation and health care. The IDB’s funds provide support for countless development projects, emergency response teams, recovery and capacity building. Apart from Palestine, new beneficiaries include Somalia, Niger, Comoros and the minority Rohingya community in Myanmar.

The Mumbai-based NGO, the Rashtriya Institute of Skill and Education (RISE), led by Chairperson Dimple Kapani, is engaged in promoting high-quality medical care for India’s rural poor. It is very active in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

The aid and assistance from IDB will help RISE buy sophisticated mobile health units that are custom-made for countries such as India. The mobile units are connected to a centralized studio in Mumbai where specialists of top hospitals are present to provide solutions in real time.

Among those present at the signing ceremony was Zafar Sareshwala, chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) and RISE board member.

Welcoming the agreement, he said: “The pact, following so closely on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful visit to Saudi Arabia, is being seen as one more step in cementing our ties with the Kingdom.”

Sareshwala stated that RISE is also engaged in raising awareness through its flagship outreach program “Taleem Ki Taquat” which focuses on the importance of education for minorities, enabling them to find sustainable employment and improving their standard of living.

“In the six ‘Taleem Ki Taquat’ programs that we have conducted so far all over India, we have been able to bring top federal ministers to our programs. Interaction with them has helped Muslims and other neglected communities solve their problems with practical solutions,” said Sareshwala.

The IDB-funded program will be rolled out initially in rural areas of Maharashtra where RISE already has mobile health units. The agreement with RISE gathered momentum after the recent visit to India by Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The ICD is IDB’s private sector arm.

Al-Aboodi was also present during the signing ceremony, when the agreement was sealed by IDB Vice President Sayed Aqa and RISE Chairperson Dimple Kapani.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Aqa said the present agreements with RISE and the previous one with the Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank) are aimed at “establishing bridges with Muslim communities around the world, particularly in India, to promote business ties, educational links and social projects.”

Aqa said: “With India, we have a very good, all-weather relationship. These projects open up many good opportunities for the integration of businesses into the Indian community. We will build on this to further strengthen our relationship. The whole notion is to foster understanding between different communities.”

Kapani thanked the IDB for the funding and said the agreement would boost ties between the two organizations and nations. It will also raise the visibility of the IDB in India because disadvantaged people in rural India will benefit directly from its funds, she added.