The World Bank has announced a new global fund to invest about $4 billion in healthcare for mothers and children in developing countries as part of a drive to end their preventable deaths by 2030.
World leaders had agreed to reduce the maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. However, with one year left, they are falling well short of the goals.
The Global Financing Facility is designed to accelerate progress by providing capital for poor countries to develop their healthcare systems and collect better data on births and deaths.
It is backed by Norway, Canada and the United States in partnership with the United Nations, the private sector and non-profits.
"This signals our collective resolve as development partners to help countries push further and faster to bring an end to preventable maternal and child deaths and extreme poverty," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Thursday in announcing the program on the sidelines of the U.N.'s annual meeting.
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Funds and loans to be given to poorest countries
The Global Financing Facility will receive initial funding of $800 million from Norway and Canada, while the World Bank plans to contribute up to $3.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans from its fund for the poorest countries, the bank said.
The United States development agency USAID said it will provide expertise in innovative financing and partnering with the private sector, which it expects will deliver an additional $200 million to $400 million.
According to the U.N., maternal mortality had dropped by 45 percent since 1990, to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013. Yet the mortality rate in poorer countries is still 14 times higher than in the developed world, and prospects for rapid improvements by 2015 are slim.
Deaths of children under-five have declined by a half over the same time span to 6.3 million in 2013, but the equality gap is huge. Children born into poverty were almost twice as likely to die as those from wealthier families, according to the U.N.
The World Health Organization estimates that an extra $5 per person needs to be invested in healthcare in some of the poorest countries where child and maternal deaths are the highest - a major investment for which they lack the resources.
The new financing facility will be based at the World Bank, which has experience in running a similar health financing initiative. It is expected to be up and running in 2015, the bank said.
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