The World Bank approved $19.5 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing for Djibouti’s entire population, including refugees and host communities, on May 26. The funds will be used to improve reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health and nutrition services, as well as to assist the Djiboutian government in integrating refugees into the national health system.

Despite major efforts to improve healthcare delivery in Djibouti, infectious diseases and maternal and infant malnutrition continue to be among the leading causes of death, with an estimated 58 children dying before reaching the age of five. The maternal death rate is approximately five times the area’s norm, at 248 per 100,000 live births.

The Djibouti Health System Strengthening Project aims to improve national health services to strengthen community resistance to health risks associated with the country’s hot temperature and harsh environment. By focusing on enhancing health care services for the most vulnerable and neglected populations, the project builds on the success of earlier health projects.

Djibouti’s Minister of Health, Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh, stated that increasing women’s and children’s access to enhanced health care by focusing on a stronger health system is a critical goal and an integral component of the country’s development strategy. “The new effort will target more poor individuals and those in most need. Improving Djibouti’s capacity to provide high-quality newborn and pediatric health care is vital for poverty alleviation.”

The operations of the project include the restoration of health facilities, notably those that provide comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care, as well as the creation of incentives for health service development at all levels. Individuals and communities are being involved, important institutions for mother and child health and nutrition are being improved, and positive behavior change is being supported. Women of reproductive age, adolescents, newborns, and children under the age of five will all benefit directly from the project.

“The Djiboutian administration is committed to addressing the community’s rising health needs, particularly those of refugees,” says Boubacar-Sid Barry, World Bank Resident Representative in Djibouti. “COVID-19 and climate-related shocks are putting pressure on Djibouti’s healthcare infrastructure, increasing the country’s need for basic healthcare services. By extending child care, maternity, and infant care, the new operation will serve to promote public health.”

The additional funds consist of $14.5 million in IDA credit and $5 million from the IDA19 Host Communities and Refugees Window (WHR). The World Health Organization was established to assist countries with substantial refugee populations in meeting the long-term development needs of refugees and host communities. Djibouti has one of the world’s largest refugee populations, accounting for more than 2.3 percent of the total population. Women and children account for more than 70% of Djibouti’s refugee population.

World Bank Office- Djibouti

In Djibouti, the World Bank has 17 IDA-supported projects worth $403.5 million. The portfolio’s priorities include education, health, social safety nets, energy, rural and urban development, modernization of public administration, digital development, strengthening governance and regional infrastructure, and private sector growth, with a focus on women and youth.

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