WASHINGTON, December 11, 2013 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved financing that will help deliver essential and often lifesaving health and nutrition services to thousands of women and children in Senegal, particularly those living in the country’s poorest households.
Building on Senegal’s excellent progress in fighting chronic malnutrition—that is, stunted growth and development among children—the new Health and Nutrition Financing Project will address further challenges such as low birth weight and iron deficiency anemia among pregnant mothers and children. It will also increase the number of births attended by skilled personnel and the share of pregnant women receiving at least four antenatal check-ups, and make modern contraceptives more easily available.
In addition to the US$20 million credit from the World Bank through the International Development Agency (IDA)*, the project has also received over US$22 million in grants from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, which is funded by the United Kingdom and Norway and focuses on improving health results.
“Senegal has already made great strides in reducing child mortality by tackling childhood malnutrition and malaria, but there has been virtually no change in the maternal mortality rate,” said Vera Songwe, World Bank’s Country Director for Senegal. “The new project will both encourage pregnant women to seek antenatal care and give birth in health facilities, as well as ensure that they receive high-quality services.”
The project will benefit six regions, namely, Kaffrine, Kedougou, Kolda, Sedhiou, Tambacounda, and Ziguinchor, which have a total population of 3.5 million people. An important feature of the project is its focus on Results-Based Financing, which is an approach that pays health facilities based on their actual performance, motivates health workers to provide good services, and improves overall management.
It will also support the Government of Senegal’s drive to subsidize health and nutrition services through the Universal Health Coverage Program (Couverture Maladie Universelle). Specific activities to be supported include training staff and setting up information systems, making institutional arrangements for the Equity Fund, and rolling out maternal health vouchers to encourage women from poor households to seek care.
“We expect that this project will help Senegal make health services more accessible to poor people and to make faster progress on all of the health-related Millennium Development Goals that come due in 2015—reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and fighting communicable diseases,” said Christophe Lemière, Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank, and task team leader for the project.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing zero-interest loans and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $16 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.