The World Bank has announced its first investment in Somalia’s health sector in 30 years.
In a statement, the bank says it has approved the Improving Healthcare Services in Somalia Project, known as “Damal Caafimaad”.
The project 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 organization says the project will deliver essential health and nutrition services and improve health service coverage and quality in some of Somalia’s most disadvantaged areas.
These include Nugaal (Puntland), Bakool and Bay (South West), Hiraan, and Middle Shebelle (Hirshabelle).
World Bank projects that around 10 per cent of Somalia’s population, as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) and nomads in the target regions, will benefit from the project’s activities.
It is also expected to strengthen the stewardship capacity of Somalia’s Federal and State Ministries of Health, by building effective institutions for stability and economic growth.
World Bank Country Manager for Somalia, Kristina Svensson said the organization is using the best of its resources by combining IDA and trust fund investments to help Somalia strengthen its essential healthcare services.
They are also working with government leaders in the health sector to meet its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3 and 5) commitments.
“The project will help catalyze Somalia’s resilient growth by improving health and productivity during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Data by the organization indicates that 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.
It also reveals that 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 per cent of children in Somalia are fully immunized.
According to the World Bank, 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 funding comes days after the World Bank revealed it had deployed over“The Damal Caafimaad Project will help the Government build its leadership and stewardship capacity in the sector while responding to immediate service gaps by rapidly increasing essential service coverage through working with partners”.
The Project is expected to incorporate 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, World Bank says 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.
$157 billion to fight the pandemic’s health, economic, and social impacts over the last 15 months (April 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021), in response to COVID-19 severely damaging the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries.
The organization said this is the largest crisis response of any such period in the Bank Group’s history and represents an increase of more than 60 per cent over the 15-month period prior to the pandemic.
Bank Group commitments and mobilizations in the fiscal year 2021 (FY21) alone (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021) amounted to almost $110 billion (or $84 billion excluding mobilization, short-term financing, and recipient-executed trust funds).
The Bank Group supported countries to address the health emergency, strengthen health systems, protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, create jobs and jump-start a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery.