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World Bank grants Malawi’s health sector $210 million

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The World Bank has approved two grants for Malawi worth $210 million (about K216 billion) to help in boosting the delivery of essential health services and strengthening safety net provisions for the country’s poorest people.

The two grants from the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) would see $100 million financing emergency operations to protect the delivery of essential health services, with the other $110 million being used for financing the scaling up and strengthening of national safety nets.

In a statement issued in Washington DC, the United States, on Wednesday, the bank said in the midst of multiple crises, including the ongoing cholera outbreak, the Malawi Emergency Project to Protect Essential Health Services (EHS) would help Malawi’s health sector maintain the delivery of emergency health services, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.

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It says the project will specifically make available resources to cover the salaries of frontline health service providers at district level as well as operating expenditures such as fuel and energy that are necessary to keep health facilities running and ambulances operational.

“It will also help supply and support the delivery of essential health medicines to health facilities across the country. The operation comes at a time health facilities are experiencing stockouts of critical drugs and medical supplies, as depleted foreign currency reserves have impacted pharmaceutical imports,” the statement reads.

World Bank Country Manager for Malawi Hugh Riddell said in a statement on Thursday that the two approvals enable IDA to front-load emergency financing for Malawi’s poorest and most vulnerable to ensure community resilience through a highly challenging economic period for the country.

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“While securing frontline health services and scaling safety nets is a direct response to the crisis, these projects are also designed to strengthen Malawian-led delivery systems, financial transparency and accountability and citizen engagement,” Riddell said.

Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe has since said the deepening of the current macroeconomic crisis is leading to a deterioration of essential health services across a system that has not yet recovered from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

He said, with about 3.8 million people facing acute food insecurity, the proposed assistance provides timely and wider coverage of shock-responsive safety nets to more affected people and for longer periods than under the regular programmes.

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