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Nicaragua to improve health care for 2.3 million people with assistance from IDB

$56.2 million in financing for building or improving 80 health care units

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved $56.2 million in financing to Nicaragua for a program to improve health care, benefitting some 2.3 million people living in vulnerable areas. The funds will finance the construction and rehabilitation of 80 health care centers as well as the integration of the health system’s clinical and management areas in seven targeted local systems (SILAIS). 

The program is expected to help Nicaragua bring down teen birth rates in targeted areas from 28.5 percent to 22 percent and the hospitalization rate for infantile diarrhea from 7.8 per 1,000 children to 6.4 per 1,000 by the end of the five-year program. 

“This operation continues the Bank’s long term commitment to strengthening the health sector, central to our agreed strategy with Nicaragua. It applies international and local evidence about the cost-effectiveness of adopting a combined emphasis on quality and access, fostering especially primary level capacity” said IDB project team leader Emmanuelle Sánchez-Monin. 

The program entails rehabilitating three hospitals, building or rehabilitating 55 primary care units and 20 community health network units, including maternity homes and housing units for personnel in remote areas. A regional medical supply warehouse will be built in Nicaragua’s central region to ensure a timely response to disasters. 

In addition, the program will improve the health care system by integrating its clinical and management areas. This change will foster the continuity of treatment as well as ongoing assessment and risk evaluation, referral/counter-referral, and medical-record keeping. 

The program will help raise health care professionals’ awareness of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples’ cultures and values and include traditional medicine into treatment protocols. Twelve thousand pregnant women will be signed up for a safe motherhood plan, focusing on four areas with higher maternal mortality rates. It will also promote the use of institutional perinatal services, and explore the benefits of maternity homes. 

As a result of the program, the percentage of births at properly equipped health centers is expected to rise from 55 percent to 75 percent and the number of pregnant women in rural areas discharged from maternity homes is anticipated to grow from 20 percent to 60 percent, while the incidence of postoperative hospital infections is expected to drop by 20 percent. 

The financing consists of $28.1 million from the IDB’s Ordinary Capital for a 30-year term, with a 5 ½-year grace period and a fixed interest rate, plus $28.1 million from the concessional Fund for Special Operations for a 40-year term, with a 40-year grace period and a 0.25 percent interest.