By Amie Sanneh
60 communities and 12 health facilities in the Upper River and Central River Regions respectively will be benefitting from a World Bank funded project to implement the Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Results Project using Results Based Financing approach.
A random selection of the communities was recently held at a public ceremony at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Bijilo.
According to the Project Coordinator, Modou Cheyassin Phall, the project started about one and a half year ago as a pilot project conducted in the North Bank West to the tune of $850, 000. Mr. Phall said now they want to expand to other parts of the country, URR and CRR. He was quick to add that they will not involve all the health facilities and communities in the said regions. He explained that in the first phase, they will be going to 12 health facilities and 60 communities. Mr. Phall said they do not want to sit in their offices and identify the communities unbeknown to them; and that is why they invited the health Minister, URR and CRR Governors and other stakeholders to witness the ‘Random Selection Ceremony’ to ensure transparency. He explained that they will be addressing both the demand side (communities) and supply side (health facilities). He said in 18 Months’ time, they will do another selection process of 12 health facilities and 60 communities, and this process will continue until they cover 400 communities and all the health facilities in the country.
The purpose of the project, he said, is to address the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1C, 4 and 5. MDG 1C, he said, is talking about under nutrition, noting that there is a high rate of malnutrition in the communities especially children under five. MDG 4 is Maternal Mortality while MDG 5 is Infant Mortality which he described as high in the country though efforts have been made to address it. He noted that they still have a long way to go in addressing these issues, adding if they want to attain the MDGs on sustainable development goals, they need to ensure that the gains made are not lost. “So that is why we are concentrating particularly on those MDGs to make sure that our women don’t die unnecessarily while delivering; to make sure that our children don’t die unnecessarily just because they are malnourished or they get infections. This is what we really want to address through this project,” he said.
On the selection criteria, he said for the health facilities, there are no selection criteria but for the communities, the community should be under primary health care and baby friendly community initiative, a functioning Village Development Community and a Village Support Group. Mr. Phall stated that the reason why they put in place those criteria is that they want to work within structures at the community level as creating new structures will take time.
The Health Minister, Omar Sey, commended the World Bank for the support and called on the stakeholders involved in the project to work together and ensure success towards the implementation of the project.