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Honduras to expand coverage and quality of health services

IDB loan for $50 million will benefit child and maternal health in the country’s poorest municipalities

Honduras will utilize a $50 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to improve access to quality health services, especially in poor rural areas, enabling the government to double the number of beneficiaries by 2015.

Honduras has achieved significant improvements in health indicators over the past 20 years, increasing life expectancy and lowering maternal and infant mortality rates. However, important problems remain, particularly the unequal access to health services for the country’s rural poor.

This is especially true for maternal and child health: Only 20 percent of poor women undergo prenatal controls, compared to 79 percent nationally. Maternal and infant mortality rates are much higher in rural areas. In addition, Honduras has the second-highest rate of child malnutrition in Central America, with 30 percent of children under the age of five malnourished. In that age group, more than half the deaths are attributable to malnutrition.

The project aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Health (SESAL), the entity responsible for its execution. The main challenge will be in rural areas where it is necessary to ensure the availability of human resources, materials and medicines for permanent attention to protect the most vulnerable groups. Through the implementation of decentralized management, the aim is to improve access, efficiency and quality of services, in order to reduce by 25 percent the mortality rate for hospitalized women and by 15 percent the number of neonatal deaths.

The IDB financing consists of $35 million from ordinary capital, with a 30-year term, a grace period of 5.5 years and an interest rate based on LIBOR, and $15 million from the Fund for Special Operations, with a 40-year term and grace period and 0.25 percent interest.

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