Focus is on Improving Health Care and Delivery of Basic Services
MBABANE, December 14, 2011 – The World Bank and Government of Swaziland today signed loan agreements for US$ 46.9 million to improve access to quality health services and strengthen the capacity of local governments to improve delivery of basic services:
- US$20 million health sector project with additional grant co-financing from the European Union of €14.5 million, the project aims to improve access to primary health care, maternal health, and tuberculosis/HIV integrated care. This joint project will also work to increase social safety net access for orphans and vulnerable children through a pilot cash transfer mechanism. The project will also support Swaziland’s efforts to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals on HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality and under-5 mortality.
- US$26.9 million for strengthening sub-national local governments to manage growth and boost delivery of basic services.
“Improving human health and strengthening the capacity of local governments to deliver basic services in Swaziland are key strategic priorities,” said Ruth Kagia, World Bank Country Director for Swaziland at the signing ceremony in Mbabane together with Hon. M. Sithole, Minister of Finance, Swaziland, “These projects will help to lay the foundation for long-term growth and provide sustainable improvements that deliver benefits to Swazi citizens.”
Supporting the Health Sector
Swaziland’s health sector faces daunting challenges; health outcomes are worsening from the affects of an intense HIV/ tuberculosis co-epidemic and limited progress in reducing maternal and child mortality and morbidity. With the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate at 26 percent, one in two Swazi women aged 25-29 years are HIV positive. Tuberculosis is the main cause of death among people living with HIV/AIDS and accounts for over 50 percent of all deaths and over 25 percent of hospital admissions. HIV co-infection is estimated to occur in over 80 percent of all tuberculosis cases.
“The World Bank is committed to supporting Swaziland’s efforts to improve the lives of current and future generations,” said Kanako Yamashita-Allen, World Bank Senior Health Specialist and project leader. “We look forward to rapid and effective implementation of this vital project to benefit Swazi citizens and orphaned and vulnerable children.”
Strengthening Local Government
Swaziland is experiencing rapid migration to urban and peri-urban areas thereby overwhelming the service delivery capacity of local government structures, impeding businesses and impairing the quality of life. The project’s initial focus is on 12 urban local governments and eight Tinkhundlas and based on results of this initial intervention, the project can be scaled-up and scaled-out. The project will introduce incentives and performance criteria for local governments, and performance-linked financing will enable urban local governments to finance road infrastructure while rural Tinkhundla can finance roads and a variety of local infrastructure needs.
“By focusing on improving the capacity of local governments in urban and rural areas, we can achieve the twin goals of boosting business-led economic growth and improving people’s lives in rural areas through effective delivery of basic services,” said Kremena Ionkova, World Bank Senior Urban Development Specialist and project leader. “We look forward to working closely with the Government of Swaziland and its development partners to achieve positive development outcomes.”