WASHINGTON, August 30, 2013 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$ 18 million today to help Sierra Leone continue to expand improved health services to more mothers and children in the country, and to distribute bed nets that protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
The existing World Bank-funded Sierra Leone Reproductive and Child Health Project has been showing excellent results. Between 2011 and 2012, it helped to more than double the number of women coming in for four antenatal checkups during pregnancy, from about 44,000 to over 100,000. It also helped increase the number of fully immunized children from 40,600 to over 49,000; and the number of deliveries in a health facility from 30,300 to nearly 35,000. These are very encouraging results for Sierra Leone.
“With World Bank support, Sierra Leone has been steadily increasing the chances of survival for thousands of women and children, said Evelyn Awittor, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project. “This could be the beginning of a real turnaround for health results in the country, which introduced a free maternal and child healthcare policy in 2010. The funds approved today will help roll out better quality health services to more women and children so that this policy achieves real results for poor people.”
Of these funds, US$13 million is an IDA* credit and US$ 5 million is a grant from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund supported by the United Kingdom and Norway. Primarily, the money will help expand performance-based financing—where health facilities are paid based on the quality and quantity of services provided—from two to eight hospitals in the country, and also to private primary health centers.
The project will also help Sierra Leone distribute more than 500,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to combat malaria, a dreaded disease that takes lives and affects people’s ability to work. These insecticide-treated nets will replace older ones distributed in 2010 to 98 percent of all households in the country.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) 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 $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.