The Ministry of Health launched Phase II of a project to improve healthcare access in the Central Highlands for a number of ethnic minority groups on January 26.

The project’s second phase has a total investment of 76.6 million USD, including a 70 million USD loan from the Asian Development Bank, and will be implemented through 2019 across five provinces: Dak Lak, Kon Tum, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, and Lam Dong.

The project is working to strengthen primary healthcare at the communal level, improving the quality of and access to medical services at hospitals and enhancing hospital management capacity.

At the launching ceremony in the Cu Ne commune of Dak Lak’s Krong Buk district, Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands Tran Dai Quang expressed his appreciation for the Ministry of Health’s efforts, which have facilitated locals’ access to high-quality medical services.

Quang, who is also the Minister of Public Security, asked the health sector and local authorities to use domestic and foreign sources of funding more effectively to expand the grassroots medical system. He also recommended sending medical staff to disadvantaged areas.

Following the ceremony, they broke ground on the construction of a 100-bed general hospital in Krong Buk district. The hospital, built across three hectares of land at a total cost of more than 141 billion VND (6.7 million USD), is scheduled to be operational in early 2016.

The Central Highlands, covering a total area of over 54,641 square kilometres, is home to more than 5.46 million people; ethnic minorities account for 45 percent of the region’s population.-VNA