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The Gambia: WB Supports Efforts to Boost Nutrition and Health Care for Women and Young Children

March 21, 2014

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a grant to help The Gambia strengthen primary health care services and improve community nutrition for the country’s most vulnerable children and women. The project is expected to reach approximately 183,000 children under five and 180,000 women aged 15-49 years, yielding a total of 363,000 beneficiaries by 2019.  

The new US$3.68 million IDA* grant supports the Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Results Project, which will bring community-based nutrition and primary health care services for women and children in three of the country’s poorest regions: the Upper River, the Central River, and the North Bank West Regions. The US$8.68 million total project is supported by an additional US$5 million grant from the Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Health Results Innovation.

“This project is very innovative in that it combines the purchase of health and nutrition results from communities and health facilities through results-based financing,” said Vera Songwe, World Bank Country Director for The Gambia. “Communities and health facilities will be motivated to work closely together to deliver better quality services for children and women’s nutrition and health which will, contribute to poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Today’s Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Results Project will go a long way towards improving the livelihoods of poor families suffering from poor health.”

In The Gambia, maternal and child nutrition and health outcomes have stagnated over the past 10 years. As a result, maternal mortality rate as well as the mortality rate for children under-five in The Gambia is high and lags behind several nearby countries. Under today’s project health facilities will receive payments if they can show that their services have increased and improved.  Similarly, communities will receive payments if they can show that indicators of hygiene, sanitation, health and nutrition education and care of women and children’s health have improved.  Pregnant women will receive incentive payments for seeking antenatal care within the first trimester followed by three quality visits in the course of their pregnancy..

“Today’s project is a first in that it combines supply-side as well as demand-side interventions to enhance community nutrition and primary health care services of women and children, who often bear the most severe consequences of poor nutrition, hygiene, and inadequate health care. These services include all aspects of reproductive and child health and nutrition promotion such as antenatal care, delivery care, postnatal care, infant and young child feeding counseling, micronutrient supplementation, and the prevention and integrated management of childhood illnesses” said Menno Mulder-Sibanda, World Bank Task Team Leader for this Project.

* 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.

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