Washington — The World Bank today approved new financial help to improve maternal and child health services and prevent the further spread of HIV in Madagascar. The Bank will finance a cost-effective program of health, nutrition, and sexually transmitted STI/HIV/AIDS services. These will address urgent needs of vulnerable groups including pregnant women and children under five, as well as those most at risk of STI/HIV/AIDS, such as youth, military, and sex workers.
Executive Directors of the World Bank Group's Board approved new additional financing in the form of a zero-interest IDA* credit of US$6 million for the Second Multisectoral STI/HIV/AIDS prevention project (MSPP II). This will build on the original project, which was approved in 2005 with financing of US$30 million. In addition to the health, nutrition and STI/HIV/AIDS package, the new funds will also help innovate delivery of services to communities and individuals.
The new financing will help regions with high poverty and poor health. It will cover the poorest 26 districts in the regions of Androy, Atsimo Atsinanana, Vatovavy Fitovinany, Haute Matsiatra and Amoron'i Mania. Today's new financing will benefit an estimated 600,000 people, bringing the total number of beneficiaries under the project to approximately 2.5 million people.
"By helping some of Madagascar's most vulnerable people, including women and children, we in the World Bank are trying to improve the general wellbeing of a neglected population," explained Haleh Bridi, the World Bank Country Director for Madagascar. "Working hand in hand with the Malagasy people we will improve the health and nutrition of communities especially those which are home to the poorest people."
While there has been significant progress in health over the past decade, Madagascar has lagged behind on some key health indicators, especially for pregnant women and children under five. Maternal mortality is estimated at 498 per 100,000 live births, far above the Millennium Development Goal of 149 per 100,000. In addition, 27 percent of pregnant women are severely underweight and anemic. Child health outcomes had greatly improved before the crisis, but these gains are now imperiled.
"In Madagascar, the cost of inaction in the health and nutrition sectors is high," added Jumana Qamruddin, the World Bank Task Team Leader for the project. "Through this project, we are able to intervene in a few critical areas in an effort to protect people's physical and economic well-being in the country."
Before the constitutional crisis in Madagascar, the Bank financed yearly IDA commitments of about US$150 million for 2007-08. However, since the unconstitutional coup in March 2009, the World Bank has sharply restricted its new commitments to Madagascar to include only emergency situations. This additional financing operation by the World Bank in the health sector falls under this category. This approach was endorsed in the World Bank's Interim Strategy Note for Madagascar in February 2012.
* 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 81 poorest countries, 39 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.