WASHINGTON, March 31, 2014 – The World Bank Board of Directors has approved a US$10 million Maternal and Newborn Voucher Project for the delivery of reliable maternal, newborn, and reproductive health services for more than 225,000 poor women and their newborns in rural and urban areas in Yemen.
An additional US$10 million will be contributed from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, thus increasing the total available funds to US$20 million for the duration of five years in three governorates, Sana’a, Taiz, and Hadramaut.
In its two components, the project focuses on improving access to maternal and newborn health services using a demand-driven payments approach, distributing vouchers and small cash benefits to beneficiaries, and for monitoring the project management.
Yemen drew up a country acceleration plan to achieve its Millennium Development Goals in reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. As this plan lacks the necessary financial resources for it to be implemented, this new project will make the US$20 million available to cover the financing gap.
“Six Yemeni women die every day from pregnancy related complications” said Wael Zakout, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen. “Through this project, mothers will have better access to quality health care, saving the lives of many women, especially in rural areas”.
Women in rural areas will now be able to be hospitalized during delivery or pregnancy if need be, as well as for their or their babies’ medical complications.
“Women in hard to reach areas will not only have access to safe motherhood services, neonatal care, and family planning services, but also receive extra benefits that would cover transport, accommodation and food,” said Alaa Mahmoud Hamed, World Bank Senior Health Specialist. “The project will contribute to meeting needs for family planning, allowing families to plan and space births as well’.
The project is expected to yield economic and financial returns for Yemen. In improving the use of maternal and newborn health services, it should be able to grant more access to quality maternal health services in targeted areas, improving maternal mortality while reducing infant mortality, and also reducing levels of fraud.
An earlier, related project supported the delivery of more than 15,000 safe births in a target population with access to satellite clinics. The Social Fund for Development will be the implementing agency for the new Maternal and Newborn Project and will manage the health voucher program.
As of February 2014, the Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) portfolio consisted of 32 active projects for a total net commitment of US$949 million, including four grants approved since July 2013, in total amounts of US$58 million. The amount of US$520 million is yet to be disbursed.