SOMALIA – The World Bank, has approved its first investment in Somalia’s health sector in 30 years, which is financed by a US$75 million International Development Assistance (IDA) grant and an additional US$25 million grant from the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF).

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.

Since inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about US$21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.

The improving healthcare services project, dubbed “Damal Caafimaad”, will deliver essential health and nutrition services and improve health service coverage and quality in some of Somalia’s most disadvantaged areas.

To build effective institutions for stability and economic growth, the project will also strengthen stewardship capacity of Somalia’s Federal and State Ministries of Health alongside catalyzing Somalia’s resilient growth.

We are using the best of our resources by combining IDA and trust fund investments to help Somalia strengthen its essential healthcare services,” said World Bank Country Manager for Somalia, Kristina Svensson.

Somalia’s lagging health outcomes reflect the country’s insecurity, vulnerability, and poverty, limiting opportunities for people to access basic social services, including health and education.

According to data by WHO, the average life expectancy is 56 years and the fertility rate, at 6.9 children per woman, is among the highest in the world.

Moreover, poor health outcomes are underlined by weak health service delivery: for example, only 11 percent of children in Somalia are fully immunized.

The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed Somalia’s weak health system, underlining the need for increased investment to the nascent health sector and its institutions.

The Somali people have long suffered from recurrent humanitarian and health emergencies. There are substantial challenges in the health sector, and the country needs to lay the foundation for a resilient health system to improve health outcomes and respond to external health challenges,” said World Bank Task Team Leader, Naoko Ohno.

The Project incorporates lessons learned from other health projects supported by the World Bank in Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations (FCS), as well as from ongoing World Bank-financed projects in Somalia.

To build the capacity of the government to oversee and regulate health services, the project will support government contracting of health service delivery to NGOs, an approach that has successfully been used to expand access to high quality health services in FCS and low capacity contexts, including Afghanistan and Cambodia.

Likewise, with support from the GFF, the government is prioritizing the delivery of a set high-impact interventions which will benefit approximately 1.84 million people in Somalia, with women and children taking top priority.

Setting priorities based on what will be the highest impact investments and aligning partner support behind a country-led process is critical for accelerating progress for women, children and adolescent health,” said World Bank Task Team Leader, Bernard Olayo.

With World Bank support, Somalia is increasing its investments in human capital development for greater equity and economic growth, which will be essential for the country to sustain a path of growth and reform.

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