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1.8 million Nicaraguans will benefit from increase in health coverage

Program will reduce maternal and infant mortality rates in priority rural areas

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $45 million loan to help reduce maternal and infant mortality rates in Nicaragua’s most vulnerable rural municipalities.

Over the past 10 years, Nicaragua’s life expectancy has risen and its neonatal and infant mortality rates have dropped. Yet, there are lingering health coverage access disparities between rural and urban areas. As a result, chronic malnutrition among children under five years of age is 29.5 percent in the priority area, compared with a national average of 17 percent.

The program will tackle those challenges by helping provide poor rural communities with adequate access to basic health services. The Community Health Program for Rural Municipalities will benefit 1.8 million-plus Nicaraguans living in 54 localities on the North Caribbean Coast, Jinotega, Matagalpa and Dry Corridor, enhancing maternal and child services through quality and coverage monitoring, interventions from the monitoring of pregnant women, and early childhood nutrition promotion.

The funds will also help improve primary hospitals’ infrastructure and supply diagnostic equipment to far-off health units to help them improve healthcare for the local population and speed up responses to epidemic outbreaks. Additionally, they will finance the continuation of a health workers’ development plan that will be complemented with training courses for health assistants and upgrading in the skills of health personnel.

The program’s healthcare plan is in line with the country’s strategy aimed at reducing chronic infant malnutrition within a “thousand-day window” (the period of time between pregnancy and the infant’s second year of life) in rural communities. The plan also includes resources to tackle sanitary emergencies caused by zika, dengue, chikungunya and other epidemic outbreaks.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source oflong-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

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