WASHINGTON, December 30, 2013 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved new funding to support Kenya’s efforts to deliver quality health and nutrition services to as many as 35 million people by 2016. Of these beneficiaries, half are women and about 16 percent live in drought-prone areas.
Kenya has been implementing extensive reforms in its health sector, including by setting up a single National Ministry of Health and empowering the country’s 47 counties to manage health services. The new funds will be used to help manage these changes, and to ensure that poor people benefit from the reforms.
“The recent reforms in Kenya’s health sector must lead the country closer to universal health coverage, so that all Kenyans benefit from decent health services, regardless of where they live and how much they earn,” said Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Our support will help ensure that poor and vulnerable people—who most urgently need these services—are not left behind.”
The International Development Agency (IDA)* credit of US$41 million for the Health Sector Support Project is accompanied by a US$20 million grant from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, which is supported by the United Kingdom and Norway and helps countries to sharpen their focus on health results.
The project will scale up an approach known as Results-Based Financing which pays frontline health facilities based on the quality and quantity of services they provide. This approach has helped deliver rapid improvements in several other African countries.
In Kenya, there have been promising early results for women and children in Samburu County, where the Results-Based Financing approach was first tested. For example, essential services such as ante-natal checkups during pregnancy are reaching more women. The approach will soon be extended to 20 more counties in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas, where access to quality health services is generally weak, and public-private partnership is key.
The project will support health insurance subsidies for poor people during the first phase of Kenya’s universal health coverage effort. High out-of-pocket expenses currently prevent more than half the country’s poor households from accessing services they need, lowering their income and productivity. It will also support improved county capacity for delivering effective health services.
“As Kenya’s counties adjust to the decentralized way of working, the project will build their capacity to identify and manage key priorities at the county level, which can vary depending on the particular challenges in each county,” said Ramana Gandham, Lead Health Specialist at the World Bank.
* 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.