President Weah Submits US$54 Million Credit Agreement to Boost Health Sector amid COVID-19 Surge
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – President George Weah has submitted before the Legislature for ratification a US$54 million loan agreement between the Government of Liberia and the International Development Association (IDA) for the improvement of healthcare services in Liberia.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
IDA is part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries through the provision of grants and credits at a “zero or low-interest rate.”
In a communication to the House of Representatives, the President informed the lawmakers that under the agreement, the IDA will credit an amount of US$54 million to improve health service delivery to women, children, and adolescents in Liberia.
Writing further, the President said the project, amongst other things, seeks to design and construct Phase II of the Redemption hospital, and to acquire and install equipment for both phases one and two of the medical facility.
In addition, the President noted that the project will also enhance the human resource skills of key health specialists including nurses and midwives through the provision of trainings and graduates and post graduate studies to selected areas including internal medicines, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatric and anesthesia.
“It will enhance availability of reliable data to promote evidence-based decision making within the health sector. It shall be carried out through the Ministry of Health by a project implementation Unit (PIU),” the President wrote.
Mode of Repayment
According to the President, the Government will begin the repayment of the loan at a rate of 1.67 percent beginning June 15, 2025, while the final payment will be made on December 15, 2054 at a rate of 1.47 percent.
Meanwhile, plenary voted in favor of a motion proffered by Representatives Dixon Seboe (District 16, Montserrado County) to forward the loan agreement to its Joint Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, Health and Judiciary to report back within two weeks.
It can be recalled in May 2020 that the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a US$54 million IDA credit to improve health service delivery to women, children, and adolescents in Liberia.
According to a release from Washington D.C., the credit is under the Institutional Foundations to Improve Services for Health (IFISH) project which will support the expansion and operationalization of the new Redemption Hospital in Caldwell, rural Montserrado County.
The hospital is one of the largest providers of secondary level health services in the country, but currently functions at “maximum capacity”. Construction at the new site started in mid-2018 with a focus on maternal health (obstetrics and gynecology) and child health (pediatrics).
The approved scale-up financing, according to the release, will ensure that the new site also provides services in surgery and internal medicine and that the hospital is fully equipped and operational.
The project aims to reduce the number of women dying in pregnancy, improve the health, wellbeing, and survival of the adolescent girl, and contribute to the improvement of Liberia’s Human Capital Index.
The release furthered that the project would build ongoing efforts supported by the World Bank and Global Financing Facility (GFF) to improve the quality of healthcare and build resilience since the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Meanwhile, the agreement is submitted at a time the country is grappling with COVID-19 amid concerns about the country’s weak health care system.
The National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) on Wednesday reported that the total confirmed coronavirus cases were at 1,114 with 70 deaths and 592 recovery.
The Government is hopeful that the loan, when ratified, will be a milestone in strengthening the health sector.