WASHINGTON, May 22, 2007 - The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank has today approved an additional International Development Association (IDA) financing for the Sierra Leone Health Sector Reconstruction and Development Project (HSRD) which has been providing support to the country's health delivery system and strengthening public and private health sector capacities in meeting the growing health needs of the Sierra Leone population.
The additional grant of approximately US$8 million will help finance the costs associated with (a) completing original civil works activities that face cost overruns, and (b) implementing additional activities related to the control and prevention of onchocerciasis and avian influenza. It will support (a) the adjustment of key performance indicators to strengthen the project focus on critical health outcomes, and (b) scale back the malaria program in response to increased funding for these activities now available from other development partners.
This funding will be specifically used to scale up onchocerciasis control and prevention - the prevalence of oncho, a debilitating and often blinding disease endemic to tropical areas of Africa, has increased in Sierra Leone over the past few years. Oncho prevention was not included in the original project design because it was expected to be financed through other sources of funding, which did not materialize. The disease can be treated through an annual dose of the drug ivermectin, and the Government has launched a massive campaign involving the World Bank, the private sector, voluntary organizations, and local communities.
The project will strengthen avian influenza awareness and preparedness. Since the avian influenza H5N1 virus remains a potent threat in Africa, the Government has developed a new monitoring and prevention program in line with Bank, FAO, and WHO recommendations. There are no known outbreaks of H5N1 in Sierra Leone, but in 2006, eight countries (Nigeria, Egypt, Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Côte D'Ivoire, and Djibouti) reported outbreaks that resulted in sixteen confirmed human cases with seven fatalities.
The HSRD project will also improve the operational conditions of health facilities. Additional financing is needed to (a) complete civil works included in the original project design that face cost overruns, because of increased unit costs for building materials and increased scope of work required for repairing basements and roofing structures; and (b) support some additional facilities for hospitals and community health centers that lack adequate infrastructure to effectively deliver project activities.
The original grant was approximately US$20 million approved in February 2003 with an expected closing date in February 2008. It became effective in May 2003. The total project cost was US$21 million, of which the Government was expected to finance US$1 million. However, on January 22, 2007, IDA agreed to allow for 100 percent financing of all eligible expenditures. The additional US$8 million is now expected to contribute towards:
- Improving access to health care for rural populations by: (a) rehabilitating health infrastructure in mid-size rural districts; (b) financing strategies such as primary health care and prevention offering a comparative advantage to the poor; and (c) supporting programs as malaria, TB, sanitation, onchocerciasis and avian flu;
- Making the health delivery system more responsive to the needs of the rural population by promoting the decentralization of decision-making.
In Washington: Beldina Auma (1+202) 458-7307
In Freetown: Mohamed Sidie Sheriff (+232) 76-605447 firstname.lastname@example.org