The World Bank has given Malawi a US$210 million grant to help in bolstering the delivery of essential health services and strengthen safety net provisions for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.
The two grants have been facilitated and approved by International Development Association (IDA) which is one of the five organizations that make up the World Bank.
The grants will finance $100 million emergency operation to protect the delivery of essential health services and $110 million operation to scale up and strengthen national safety nets.
The interventions are coming under two projects namely; Malawi Emergency Project to Protect Essential Health Services (EHS) and Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods Project (SSRLP).
A statement issued the World Bank says in the midst of multiple crises, including the ongoing cholera outbreak, the Malawi Emergency Project to Protect Essential Health Services (EHS) will help Malawi’s health sector maintain the delivery of emergency health services particularly for the most vulnerable populations.
Currently, over 400 people have died from cholera across the country.
The statement says the grants will also help supply and support the delivery of essential health medicines to health facilities across the country. The operation comes at a time when health facilities are experiencing stock-outs of critical drugs and medical supplies, as depleted foreign currency reserves have impacted pharmaceutical imports.
The second additional financing for the Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods Project (SSRLP) will scale up and strengthen existing shock responsive safety nets in Malawi.
“Specifically, the operation will finance a national 3-month emergency cash transfer for the 300,000 beneficiaries of the existing Social Cash Transfer Program (SCTP), a 3-month horizontal expansion for 105,000 beneficiaries in urban hotspots; and an expansion of 85,000 beneficiaries of the Climate Smart Public Works program.”
In addition, the operation will lay the foundation for increased donor harmonization and government leadership of the SCTP through the milestone establishment, with the support of several of Malawi’s key international Development Partners, of the Social Protection Multi Donor Trust Fund and expand coverage of Malawi’s social registry known as the Unified Beneficiary Registry (UBR) and electronic payments of cash transfers and public works wages.
“These 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. While securing front-line 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.” says Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi.
Recent public health emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, a polio outbreak, and an ongoing cholera outbreak threaten to reverse the progress made in health outcomes and continue to strain Malawi’s health system amid shortages of health workers, financial resources, and essential drugs and supplies. This just-in-time financing for emergency health services in the areas of reproductive, maternal and child health, life-saving vaccines, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS services will help sustain the gains accrued over the years.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Sosten Gwengwe, has commended the World Bank for what he terms timely interventions.
“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-19 pandemic and with an unprecedented 3.8 million people facing acute food insecurity, the proposed SSRLP AF2 provides timely and wider coverage of shock-responsive safety nets to more affected people and for longer periods than under the regular programs,” he says.
The grants form part of a range of donor interventions that are evidence of President Chakwera’s commitment to public finance management which in turn has brought back donor confidence.