World Bank has approved US$500 million International Development Association, IDA, credit to significantly improve maternal, child, and nutrition health services for women and children.
By improving access to higher quality health services, the new development financing will help Nigeria to achieve its “Saving One Million Lives, SOML Initiative,” which was launched by the Federal Ministry of Health in October 2012 to save the lives of the more than 900,000 women and children who die every year in Nigeria from largely preventable causes.
Lead Health Specialist and Task Team Leader for the new project, Benjamin Loevinsohn said “Saving One Million Lives is a bold response from the Nigerian government to improve the health of the country’s mothers and children so they can survive illness and thrive.  This, in turn, will also contribute to the social and economic development of Africa’s largest economy.”
A statement from the Bank said “Nigeria accounts for 14 percent of all annual maternal deaths worldwide, second only to India at 17 percent.
“Similarly, Nigeria accounts for 13 percent of all global deaths of children under the age of five years, again second only to India at 21percent.
“To address the challenge of its 900,000 maternal and child deaths, the SOML Initiative focuses on (i) increasing the use of high-impact reproductive and child health and nutrition interventions; (ii) improving the quality of these services; (iii) strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems and measurement data; (iv) encouraging private sector innovation; and (v) increasing transparency in management and budgeting for Primary Health Care, PHC, in the country.”
“Federal and State governments will also receive incentive payments for better tackling governance and management issues in the health sector and for improving the quality of basic health services.”
Nigeria’s Country Director, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly said “This welcome new Programme for Results operation for health will also strengthen Nigeria’s own health system and development footing while also providing an important mechanism for bringing both Government and development partners together around a commitment to achieve specific, tangible results.”
The programme will be implemented under the Federal Ministry of Health, in close cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Finance, which will provide the financial oversight role.
The new health operation is expected to start implementation on August 1, 2015 and will end four years later in December 2019.
The World Bank’s IDA, established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.

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