World Bank provides additional $70M to boost South Sudan's healthcare system
The donation will advance effective health emergency response and systems strengthening
Since independence, South Sudan continues to experience the worst humanitarian crisis, which has undermined and severely impacted the country's health systems' performance, reducing its ability to provide essential health services, as per the World Health Organization's 2021 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, per the report. 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.
To counter these challenges and prevent further health crises, the World Bank provided a $200 million grant in 2021 to support the effective delivery of essential healthcare services in remote and conflicted areas of Jonglei, Pibor, Reweng, Upper, and Unity in South Sudan.
But since 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. To foil gaps in South Sudan's health sector that is entirely dependent on donor support, the World Bank has offered an additional $70 million to support the CERHSP project up to 2024.
During the signing ceremony, the World Bank Vice President for East and Southern Africa Victoria Kwakwa stressed the importance of community participation in the project's delivery, adding that the partnership should be about meeting the communities needs and wants.
This partnership should be about what the communities need, where the communities want the support, and I think we are working on that already. I appeal to the Ministry of Health to encourage the communities to be part of deciding what we should do
"I am 100% sure that the community has a voice of what they want. Let's work together through partnerships that are based on trust and respect. The World Bank gives the liberty to government stakeholders to always reach out to us freely anytime. I also salute our partnership with UNICEF because it's critical for us. This is the time we all need to work in collaboration," said Victoria.
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 and 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.
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.
Hon. Yolanda Awel Deng – National Health Minister thanked the World Bank for its support which is achieving essential healthcare in South Sudan.
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. 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 ministry.
She added that the additional funding provided a significant opportunity to uplift many individuals in the targeted areas, particularly women and children.
"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. The additional funding, we are getting today is a huge opportunity to facelift numerous individuals in the areas targeted. It should be noted that women, individuals, and children have success stories because of this project" Awel stated.
COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness (CERHSP) is a World Bank-funded project premised on strengthening the response to COVID-19 while consolidating health service delivery for the refugee and host communities.
According to a 2021 World Bank report, between April to December alone, 2,612,789 people benefited from essential health, nutrition, and population services, 339,517 children were immunized, 298,677 women and children received essential nutrition services and 24,996 birth deliveries were attended by skilled health workers in the two States of Jonglei and Upper.