World Bank Pledges $700 Million to Improve Health for Women, Children

The World Bank Group has announced that it expects to invest at least $700 million by the end of 2015 to help developing countries reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and children's health.

With financing provided by the bank's International Development Association (IDA) and Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, the new funds will be used to scale successful reproductive, maternal, and child health projects in developing countries. The announcement comes almost a year to the day after World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim announced that the bank would provide funding to help scale pilot projects for women's and children's health as part the UN's Every Woman Every Child global partnership.

The latest commitment by the bank is in addition to its 2010 pledge to provide $600 million in IDA results-based financing in support of MDGs four and five by 2015; the bank fulfilled that commitment two years ahead of schedule. According to the bank, the earlier financing has contributed to global declines in maternal and child mortality rates and improved access to health care for poor women and children in the developing world. In Afghanistan, for instance, the number of women delivering their babies in treatment facilities with the support of skilled birth attendants more than doubled from April 2010 to December 2012, while in Burundi, in a single year, births at health facilities increased 25 percent, prenatal consultations rose 20 percent, and the number of children who were fully vaccinated increased some 10 percent.

"We need to inject greater urgency into our collective efforts to save more women and children's lives, and evidence shows that results-based financing has significant impact," said Kim. "The World Bank Group is committed to using evidence-based approaches to help ensure that every woman and every child can get the affordable, quality health care necessary to survive and live a healthy, productive life."