World Bank provides $229m to boost education, health

The World Bank has approved $229 million to boost access to education and health services in the country.

Out of the amount, $73 million has been allocated to the Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Improvement Project, while $156 million has been voted for the Ghana Secondary Education Improvement Project.

Another project, Ghana Social Opportunities (GSP), for which $50 million has been approved, is meant to strengthen and expand support to Ghanaians to access the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.

The GSP, which will also provide more resources for labour-intensive public works and provide the needed infrastructure, will be presented to the World Bank Board on May 27, 2014.

In a statement released in Accra, the World Bank Country Director, Mr Yusupha Crooks, stated, “We are very delighted to be able to support these timely interventions by the government of Ghana to save lives and extend opportunities to some of the country’s most vulnerable.

“A development agenda which focuses directly on people and seeks to promote shared well-being is surely the right thing to pursue.”  Optimistic of outcomes

Mr Crooks said the bank was hopeful that those projects would help bring about good and tangible results, such as greater reduction in maternal and child mortality, better and equitable educational outcomes, as well as the acceleration of social protection programmes.

“As the performance and results unfold during the implementation, the Bank will consider providing expanded support for the programme”, he said.

Mr Crooks stated that Ghana had experienced a marked decline in childhood mortality over the past 20 years, reaching a rate of 78 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011.

“Maternal mortality ratio also dropped steeply from a high of roughly 600 per 1,000 live births in relation to countries at similar socio-economic levels,” he added. Lagging behind

The country director said in spite of the overall progress to improve health outcomes, Ghana was lagging behind in meeting all the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets.

“First, Ghana is considerably off track to attain the maternal mortality MDG of 160 per 100,000 live births and needs to redouble efforts in that area.

“Second, the country is not likely to meet the 2015 child mortality target of 53 per 1,000 live births, even though it is proceeding in the right direction but at a slower pace than needed. Over two-thirds of child deaths occur in the first year of life.

“Third, Ghana is unlikely to meet all the child nutrition targets, especially, stunting,” Mr Crooks said.

Against such a backdrop, he said, there was a strong case for the bank to invest in the project, which seeks to support the government’s efforts at reducing maternal and child mortality.

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