August 10, Patna: The Government of Bihar (GoB) has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation), as part of which the Foundation will provide technical support to select departments for the next five years, effective April 2021 to March 2026.The MoC, was signed today, in the august presence of Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Ministers, Shri Tarkishore Prasad and Smt. Renu Devi, and Health Minister, Shri Mangal Pandey. It focuses on institutional capacity building to sustain the transformative progress in Bihar over the past decade. GoB and Gates Foundation first signed an MoC in 2010, which was renewed in 2016 and continued till March 2021.The signatories to the current MoC are Chief Secretary, GoB Shri Tripurari Sharan and India Director, Gates Foundation, Shri Hari Menon.On the occasion, Health Minister, Shri Mangal Pandey said, “The Bihar Government is committed to improving the quality of life for the people of the state. We are delighted to have the continued support from Gates Foundation in providing us technical expertise and assistance as we collectively work towards Bihar’s progress.” Pratyaya Amrit, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Health said “This will help us to design, build and provide technical support to operationalize an open source, digital public health platform”.¬ Shri Hari Menon, Director, Gates Foundation, said, “Bihar has made significant progress in improving various health, social and development indicators for its population. We are honoured to continue on this journey with the state, and support this work further, to help improve health, and nutrition outcomes, and reduce the burden of disease and poverty, by enabling livelihoods and access to quality services, in line with the state’s development goals.”Through the MoC, Gates Foundation will provide technical support to the departments of health, social welfare, agriculture and rural development, particularly Jeevika, finance and planning. Both the parties have agreed that significant steps are necessary to improve the reach, coverage, quality and programme components of health, nutrition and sanitation services, agricultural productivity, financial inclusion and gender equality in the state of Bihar to ensure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.The other objectives of the MoC are to reduce maternal, neonatal, infant and child morbidity and mortality, unmet need for contraception specially for lower parity couples and for spacing / reversible methods, improve maternal and child nutrition, including anemia, reduce stunting and improve sanitation outcomes by providing techno-managerial support to the respective departments in the GoB. The focus will also be to eliminate communicable diseases like tuberculosis, visceral leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis and build state institutional capacity to do research in diseases like acute encephalitis syndrome and visceral leishmaniasis.