The World Bank Group yesterday announced the approval of $500 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to improve maternal, child, and nutrition health services for women and children in Nigeria.worldbank

The Bank’s Board of Directors which approved the credit at the end of its meeting on Thursday stated that the new development financing would help in improving access to higher quality health services, the new development financing will help Nigeria to achieve its “Saving One Million Lives (SOML) Initiative.”

The initiative was launched by the Federal Ministry of Health in October 2012 to save the lives of the more than 900,000 women and children who die every year in Nigeria from largely preventable causes.

According to the bank, “Saving One Million Lives” is a bold response from the Nigerian government to improve the health of the country’s mothers and children so they can survive illness and thrive.

A Lead Health Specialist and Task Team Leader for the new project, Benjamin Loevinsohn, noted further that the programme would, in turn, also contribute to the social and economic development of Africa’s largest economy.

The bank noted that Nigeria accounted for 14 per cent of all annual maternal deaths worldwide, second only to India at 17 per cent as well as 13 per cent of all global deaths of children under the age of five years, again second only to India at 21 per cent.

It also clarified that to address the challenge of its 900,000 maternal and child deaths, the SOML Initiative focused on increasing the use of highimpact reproductive and child health and nutrition interventions; improving the quality of these services; and strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems and measurement data.

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