WASHINGTON, December 20, 2011- The World Bank has approved US$30 million to finance the Mali Strengthening Reproductive Health Project, which aims to improve women’s access to and use of quality reproductive health services, and to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals that fall due in 2015.
The direct beneficiaries of the project include over 2.2 million women between 15 and 49 years of age. Adolescents, men, and older women will also benefit from social marketing campaigns aimed at helping people to achieve their desired family size. The interventions will target selected regions of Mali that have the worst reproductive health indicators, including Sikasso (South), Koulikoro (near Bamako) and Ségou (Center) and peri-urban Bamako where there are dense pockets of poverty, and quick gains can be made.
“Besides focusing on antenatal care, assisted deliveries, and family planning, the project will help build a base for policy discussions on girls’ education, age at first marriage, and the role of women,” said Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Country Director for Mali. “This is very important because reproductive health is not just about health; it is also closely linked to education and women’s empowerment.”
The project supports high-impact reproductive health interventions such as deliveries by skilled health workers, an effective referral system that gets mothers with complications to hospital quickly, availability of equipment, drugs and other supplies at health facilities, and community schemes that eliminate financial barriers to obstetric care.
“These funds will also support results-based financing of health facilities on a pilot basis in the Koulikoro region,” said Aissatou Diack, the Bank’s Task Team Leader for the project. “This approach, in which facilities are paid based on the proven delivery of pre-agreed health services, has been used successfully in other countries like Rwanda and Burundi, contributing to a visible improvement in health results”.
The project’s component 1 (Strengthening Supply and Quality of Reproductive Health Services) will help roll out results-based financing incentives in health facilities on a pilot basis, covering about 120,000 women and infants; improve the supply of contraceptives, and build capacity in reproductive health and obstetric care through training of in-service medical staff and provision of medical kits and equipment.
Component 2, (Increasing Demand for Reproductive Health Services) will reinforce communication strategies for reproductive health behavior change at the local level. It will also promote and strengthen innovative mechanisms to improve the financial accessibility of Reproductive Health services. Finally, this component will help improve education and nutrition for girls, through support of the education activities the National Population Directorate and the education sector.
Component 3 (Social Accountability, Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation) will finance project management, measurement of results, and various types of surveys including a Demographic and Health Facility Survey in 2012.
The World Bank’s support to Mali is consistent with its overarching objectives in Africa, which include reducing vulnerability, while enhancing governance and public sector capacity so that public funds deliver better education, health and infrastructure for citizens.