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Extra $70 million World Bank health funding to benefit millions across the country

Posted on: 2023-04-28. Maidodo Juma – Communication and Visibility Officer/PMU
Extra $70 million World Bank health funding to benefit millions across the country

Once a country ravaged by war and conflict, South Sudan has been slowly rebuilding itself in the past decade. However, the country’s healthcare system remains severely underdeveloped, with a high prevalence of communicable diseases and a shortage of trained medical personnel. That's why the announcement of the World Bank offering $70 million in health funding to the country is a much-welcomed relief.

According to 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) Annual Report, South Sudan has a low overall general service availability score of 30.4%, with health infrastructure and service utilization indices at 43.2% and 15.05%, respectively.

A severe shortage of healthcare workers, inadequate infrastructure, and poor health service utilization further limit access to health services in the country. As a result, South Sudan has some of the highest maternal, infant, and child mortality rates globally, with a low life expectancy of 56.5 years.

But the World Bank in 2021 joined other donors supporting the health sector and donated $200 million to support the effective delivery of essential healthcare services in remote and urban areas of Jonglei, Pibor, Reweng, Upper, and Unity in South Sudan.

With its inception, the Bank-funded project has already helped 1,217 health facilities in 80 counties and financed salaries for 1,968 Boma health workers, benefiting thousands of local communities.

Speaking during the signing ceremony of COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health system preparedness additional funding, Hon. Yolanda Awel Deng said the extra funding will benefit integrated health facilities and thus benefiting numerous South Sudanese.

“The COVID-19 additional funding won’t be operating in isolation, but it will be interconnected with other health services such as malaria treatment, HIV, TB, and nutrition for children” Hon. Awel lamented.

The health minister went on to thank the World Bank group and partners for their endless support to her ministry.

“I want to thank the donors and other partners for their continued support to the Ministry of Health and encourage especially the World bank to continue supporting the Health Ministry”. Hon. Awel lamented

However, Hon. Yolanda Awel urged the donors and partners to allocate project grants based on community needs, involvements, and acceptances.

“I want to encourage the donor community to allocate grants based on community needs through localization of resources that will encourage health system strengthening and focus” Awel said.

For her part, the World Bank Regional Vice President for East and Southern Africa Victoria Kwakwa revealed that she is impressed with the huge opportunities and potentials South Sudan’s leadership and the people bear.

“My narrative on South Sudan when I was coming was conflict but to my surprise, I’m seeing a huge nation with rich opportunities, potentials and willingness of ownership and country ready to offer services to her people” Kwakwa said

Kwakwa further described the World Bank project as about community needs adding that partners should consider community needs and future ownership of the projects.

Meanwhile, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Mohamed Moustapha Malick Fall praised the World Bank's investment in South Sudan's health sector as a game-changer.

"We are investing in a very important sector, which is health. One of the major challenges is when the situation is so dire when the resources aren't there, we aren't only depriving people of access to services, but we are breaking the essential aspect of people.

 "We are investing in an area which, to me, is a game-changer. When it comes to health, the outreach, community base platforms and everything that helps to reach the most vulnerable are the areas we need to invest in and that is what the program is all about," said Mohamed.

Fall emphasized the need for implementing partners, the government, and UNICEF to be innovative while implementing the program

"We need to place it in the context of the number of health facilities that are going to be supported, and beyond those states, the kind of platforms and blueprints we are building that should not only be taken by other partners but expanded to other countries" he added.  

About the project

The World Bank Health Project for Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness is premised on strengthening the response to COVID-19 while consolidating health service delivery for the refugee and host communities in Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Unity states, as well as the Pibor and Reweng Administrative Areas.

The project covers 24 counties, with 13 in Upper Nile State, 9 in Jonglei, and 2 in Greater Pibor Administrative Area. These entail 191 health facilities including 8 hospitals, 57 Primary Health Care Centers, and 126 Primary Health Care Units, while more health facilities are being transitioned into the project in Unity State.

The World Bank-funded project also supports 6,257 healthcare workers in training, deployment, and payment of incentives. Under the project, and through a consortium of implementing partners, 1820 Boma Health Care Workers are being supported to deliver first-line emergency assistance to people in remote areas farther away from the health facilities.

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