Malawi gets $80m World Bank boost for HIV-Aids plan

The World Bank has committed to support Malawi in the prevention of HIV and AIDS and reduction of child malnutrition through a new US$80 million Nutrition, HIV and AIDS project, a media statement for bank’s headquarters in Washington said.

Approved by the World Bank’s Board of Directors on Wednesday, the project aims to make services that improve the nutritional status of mothers and children more widely available; and to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the population, including from mothers to babies.

Although Malawi is making progress in reducing adult HIV prevalence, at 10.6 percent it still remains one of the highest in the world. Every year, about a quarter of the country’s new HIV infections result from mother-to-child transmission. Malnutrition-related problems are also widely prevalent, with child stunting at 47 percent.

Sandra: The projects targets women and their babies under the age of two

The project will help accelerate progress in addressing these problems to prevent further impact on human development and economic growth in Malawi, and to get closer to the Millennium Development Goals that fall due in 2015.

“This project particularly targets women and their babies under the age of two. For Malawi to make further progress in reducing child stunting, maternal and child anaemia, and transmission of HIV from mothers to children, women and children must have access to quality nutrition and HIV/AIDS services,” said Sandra Bloemenkamp, World Bank Country Manager in Malawi.

Of the total project funds, $50 million will support HIV/AIDS. The project will support the national HIV/AIDS strategic plan (2011-2016), which builds on the previous World Bank-funded Multi-sector AIDS Project (MAP).

The new project will continue contributing to the HIV Pool administered by the National AIDS Commission (NAC). Other partners in the pool include the U.K. Department for International Development and the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

“Another key aspect is that the project will help prevent new HIV infections by improving access to voluntary medical male circumcision and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. These two approaches have been shown to be highly effective in the prevention of new HIV infections,” said John Paul Clark, the World Bank Leader of the Nutrition, HIV and AIDS project.

The project will enhance and scale up maternal and child nutrition service delivery at the community level in 15 districts that are not already covered by other development partners. These districts are Mchinji, Dedza, Ntcheu, Balaka, Rumphi, Mzimba, Likoma, Nkhotakota, Ntchisi, Zomba, Chiradzulu, Blantyre, Mulanje, Thyolo, and Mwanza.

In women of reproductive age, anaemia is a major cause of maternal mortality and is also associated with low birth weight, fatigue and reduced productivity. It is also concentrated among children aged 0-2 years.

“To conclusively reduce anaemia, we need a multipronged approach that includes health services for prevention and treatment of anaemia and parasitic infections, communication for the promotion of dietary improvements, infant and young child feeding practices, and birth spacing; iron supplementation and food fortification,” said Dr Mary Shawa, Secretary for Nutrition and HIV and AIDS in the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is co-financing the project with US$13.1 million for the nutrition component. The project will be implemented by the Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS, and NAC; and is expected to close in 2017.

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