The World Bank Board approved $50 million additional financing from the International Development Association (IDA) to improve the quality and utilisation of essential health services in Gambia. The Essential Health Strengthening Project will finance the construction and equipment of a national emergency treatment center intensive care unit, emergency observation and treatment center, national public health laboratory and training center, and national blood transfusion center.

Gambia secures $50 million World Bank funding to improve health care

The project will support the expansion of health facilities nationally, that is, to increase the existing geographical coverage of the five rural regions to cover the entire country by including the two western regions. This additional financing will enable the expansion of performance-based contracting of health facilities to cover the entire country and implementation of the National Health Insurance Bill that was passed by the National Assembly last week.

A recent survey revealed that some health facilities have asbestos roofing sheets, which are leaking and releasing dangerous asbestos fibers into the air. This additional financing will support the safe removal of the damaged asbestos roofs and the renovation of selected facilities. "Since April 2020, the World Bank has allocated nearly $100 million to support the Government's long-term efforts toward making a sustained and comprehensive health care delivery system in The Gambia," said Ms. Feyi Boroffice, World Bank Resident Representative for The Gambia.

"These investments are geared towards ensuring that the poor have access to quality health services and, by reducing the maternal mortality ratio and under-five mortality rate." said Dr. Samuel Mills, the World Bank Task Team Leader for the Project.

The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. 

Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa.