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Jamaica protects health, nutrition, early childhood, education spending with IDB assistance

$50 million loan ensures funding to social safety net programs continues to protect poor from protracted effects of economic downturn

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $50 million Policy Base Loan to protect basic health, nutrition, early childhood development and education spending to help shield Jamaica’s poor and vulnerable from the effects of the economic downturn, and to improve the effectiveness of reforms to key poverty-alleviation programs that make up the country’s Social Safety Net. 

The funding is the second and last operation of a programmatic series in support of the government’s Human Capital Protection Program and targets key social programs by focusing on preventive health and nutrition for women and children, early childhood development, and primary, secondary and special education. 

The funding will support efforts to improve the targeting effectiveness of the government’s conditional cash transfer program , the “Program of Advancement through Health and Education” (PATH), recertify PATH’s beneficiaries and increases coverage to 320,000 eligible individuals. 

It will also see to it that at least 20 percent of children born in 2010 are using the Child Health Passport to monitor the timely use of early childhood services from several social sectors, support the School Feeding Program, which provides incentives for improved school attendance, and help evaluate innovative programs that form part of the Social Safety Net. 

The program will contribute to ensuring that the rate of chronic malnutrition in children under five years of age does not increase beyond 3.7 percent; infant mortality does not raise above 26 per thousand live births; school enrolment rates do not fall below 92 percent for children 3 to 5 years old and 78 percent for children 6 to 14 years old; and the poverty rate does not increase above 16.5 percent. 

The Bank’s loan is for a 20-year term, with a 5-year grace period, and carries a variable interest rate based on Libor.