Washington — The World Bank's Board has approved an additional International Development Association (IDA)* grant of $75 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Health Sector Rehabilitation Support Project to help improve primary health care for 11 million people. The new grant will be used to provide basic services that will ensure greater survival among women and children.
"In the Democratic Republic of Congo, far too many mothers die of maternity-related causes even though they are able to access healthcare relatively easily," said Eustache Ouayoro, World Bank Country Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo. "The main problem is the quality of primary healthcare that women get at clinics, and this new World Bank grant will directly help improve services for them."
The grant will be used to reduce untimely deaths among women and promote safer childbirth by boosting capacity to deliver good obstetric care at health facilities. It will also help train staff to serve women who have suffered gender-based violence, and will make modern contraceptives more easily available.
The health status of women in the DRC reflects stark gender inequalities, with nearly one in five women being underweight, and women in cities being at considerably higher risk of getting HIV. To try to close this gender gap in health, the grant will help expand nutrition activities at clinics for both women and children, and help continue the supply of anti-retroviral treatment to those living with HIV/AIDS.
Finally, the grant will support a pilot project in Katanga that uses performance-based financing to improve services at health facilities, expanding it by more than 1 million beneficiaries. Although preliminary results are encouraging, it is important to complete the ongoing evaluation of this approach so that the DRC can take an informed decision on whether to adopt it more widely.
* 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.