World Bank to Help Lesotho Provide Lifesaving Health Services for Mothers and Infants in Hard-to-Reach Areas

April 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 – The World Bank today signed an agreement with the Kingdom of Lesotho in Washington for the new Maternal and Newborn Health Performance-Based Financing Project.

The credit of US$12 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), with a grant of US$4 million from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, supported by the UK and Norway, will be used to introduce innovative financing for health facilities in Leribe and Quthing districts in the first year, with expansion to other districts in subsequent years.

We are excited to try a new approach in improving access to decent health services for the poor, after seeing evidence of success in other African countries such as Rwanda and Burundi,” said Dr. Leketekete Ketso, Lesotho’s Minister of Finance. “Getting lifesaving health services to women and children has been a real challenge in Lesotho, as at least 40 percent of our people live in remote and sometimes inaccessible rural villages.

Under the new project, health facilities and personnel will receive financial incentives to meet pre-agreed and independently verified results, such as numbers of women receiving antenatal care during pregnancy and delivering babies in a health facility rather than at home.

“This innovative project will bring direct benefits to women of childbearing age and infants. Over time, this will improve health services for about 1.4 million people in the country,” said Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Lesotho.

 “We are helping Lesotho to tackle health issues that need the most urgent attention, while helping to strengthen the overall health system,” said Kanako Yamashita-Allen, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project. “Major challenges such as high maternal mortality and widespread HIV infection are being tackled simultaneously by changing the way the health system delivers services to people.

The World Bank has been active in Lesotho since 1966 and to date has disbursed U$522 million in grants and concessional finance. It has a portfolio of seven projects with an undisbursed amount of US$45.3 million. 

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