WASHINGTON, May 20, 2015 — The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$15.1 million for women and children to expand access to maternal, child health and nutrition services in Faranah and Labe, two of the poorest regions in Guinea.
The Primary Health Services Improvement Project, funded with a grant and credit from the International Development Association* (IDA), will target women, and children under five, by making available urgently needed medicines and recruiting and training health workers for rural health centers in Faranah and Labe. These two regions are home to around 1.9 million people, or approximately one fifth of Guinea’s total population. Of those, 52 percent are female and 20 percent are children under five.
The Ebola crisis, which first emerged in December 2013, has taken a major toll on families, communities and the economy in Guinea. The outbreak has further weakened an already weak health system. Visits in some health facilities have dropped by 50 percent in part due to the reluctance of the general population to access the health system for fear of contamination. In addition, already limited numbers of health workers and financial resources have been directed towards the Ebola response effort, and many health centers outside of Conakry are simply not functional. Too many women and children are dying from preventable illnesses, such as low nutrition, malaria and poor prenatal and maternal care.
“By giving health providers the inputs to improve their services, and strengthening community level trust and demand, this project supports the Government’s strategy to build on its Ebola response and improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities in Guinea,” said Cheick Fantamady Kante, the World Bank Country Manager for Guinea.
The project aims to support the government’s push to improve the utilization of maternal, child health and nutrition services at the primary care centers in the targeted regions by improving the availability of essential supplies and equipment at rural health centers. By training and recruiting frontline health workers moreover, and providing payment for health care costs that poor households can’t afford, the project will help ensure that rural health centers remain operable.
At the same time, the Primary Health Services Improvement Project will lay the foundation for more comprehensive health system reform in Guinea. This will be facilitated by helping to strengthen the government’s capacity to plan, implement, and monitor health services, particularly by boosting supervision of health activities at the local level. Funds will also support data collection and evidence generation to inform wider efforts to develop a health system that will improve access to health services for the many poor families living outside of the capital city of Conakry.
“Enhancing primary health care for women and children in Guinea will help prevent the outbreak of disease epidemics and strengthen the resilience of communities and households to common illness, medical complications and other shocks,” said Ibrahim Magazi, one of two World Bank Task Team Leaders for this project.
“This project’s focus on improving health services for women and children in two of the poorest regions is an initial step towards reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity in Guinea,” adds Christopher H. Herbst, the other 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 grants and low to zero-interest loans 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 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people, the majority of whom live on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.