IFC Grant Financing to Provide Low-Income Women in Sana’a, Yemen with Maternal, Newborn Care

Sana'a, Yemen, June 15, 2008— IFC is providing grant financing of $6.23 million under its Performance-Based Grants Initiative for increased access to high-quality health care by private service providers in Yemen. By expanding the role of private firms in delivering basic services and fostering innovation in public-private partnerships, this initiative seeks to enhance IFC’s development impact in frontier markets beyond what is possible with traditional IFC instruments alone.

Up to 40,000 poor Yemeni women of reproductive age in Sana’a are expected to receive a "Mother-Baby package" of basic health services under the “Queen of Sheba Safe Motherhood Project.” These services include antenatal care, attendance by skilled birth attendants, postnatal care, and complicated care services. The project will boost Yemen’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health by targeting poor women who have limited access to basic services.

Yemen’s population of 20.9 million is predominantly rural (73 percent) with 42 percent of people having very limited access to basic health services. The country, which is ranked 151 out of 177 on the 2005 UNDP Human Development Index, has a ratio of 570 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, with only 27 percent of births attended by skilled birth attendants, as well as a high fertility rate (average of seven children per woman). Because of inadequate access to health services, distrust of health care providers, lack of female doctors, and the high price of care, poor Yemeni women often deliver their babies at home without seeking any medical care or intervention during their pregnancies.

IFC’s grant funding will substantially reduce the fees for the package of services provided to mothers from low-income families – who otherwise would not be able to afford high quality health care. All services will be competitively provided by two private companies — the Saudi Yemeni Healthcare Company and the Al Mawarid Company for Educational and Health Services — mainly through new satellite clinics located in close proximity to low-income communities they are meant to serve and by leveraging existing hospital facilities for complicated care services. IFC’s grants will be output-based and will reimburse companies only after they have delivered the full package of pre-agreed health care services, subject to external quality controls. IFC grants will also reimburse a portion of the costs incurred by a Yemeni non-governmental organization, SOUL for the Development of Women and Children, which is assisting the hospitals in promoting the program.

“The project will build on IFC’s existing partnerships with the Saudi Yemeni Healthcare Company and the Al-Mawarid Company for Educational and Health Services,” said Guy Ellena, IFC Director for Health and Education. “We hope it will serve as a model—for private businesses in Yemen—of how to make socially responsible investments that contribute to the health of poor communities.”

Beyond making health care accessible and affordable to poor women, one of the key objectives of the project is to demonstrate how Yemeni public health institutions can more effectively integrate private health care provision. It will also provide practical lessons to public health authorities and foster innovation in contracting with the private sector for delivery of essential public services. This latter feature is expected to be very relevant for IFC clients in IDA countries.

This program is being administered by the World Bank and comes under the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid. GPOBA was established in 2003, initially as a multidonor trust fund, to develop output-based aid approaches in sectors such as infrastructure, health, and education. The subsidies are designed to create incentives for efficiency and the long-term success of development projects. GPOBA’s current donors are IFC and the governments of Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.gpoba.org.


Ludi Joseph
Communications Officer

Health and Education Department, IFC
Phone: 202-473-7700
Website: www.ifc.org/che