• To address COVID-19 and its secondary health crisis, the GFF announces additional grants to support country-led response and calls for urgent funding to respond to country demand  
  • The Netherlands pledges 30 million eur in additional contribution to help close funding gap 

September 29, 2021, WASHINGTON DC – Emerging evidence from the Global Financing Facility (GFF) shows that persistent and large reductions in the utilization of essential health services due to COVID-19 are likely to have far-reaching and devastating consequences for women and children. Across some of the poorest countries, the estimated increase in mortality caused by drops in the use of essential health services is more than double the officially reported COVID-19 death toll.  

These emerging findings are part of ongoing efforts to monitor disruptions and support governments and local partners with data to drive critical policy decisions and address threats to previous progress, efforts to strengthen health systems and the health and well-being of women, children, and adolescents. The magnitude, timing, and reasons for disruption differ between services, countries, and regions.  

The findings further underscore the need for countries to protect and promote essential services for women, children, and adolescents as they respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes addressing service delivery bottlenecks, ensuring frontline workers are well-equipped, making key commodities available and reducing financial barriers to services. 

Since the pandemic’s onset 18 months ago, the GFF has been supporting countries to limit the impacts of COVID-19 on essential health services, support overstretched health systems and recover with greater resilience. GFF’s COVID-19 Essential Health Service Grants are a key component of this response. With an aim to distribute additional financing to partner countries pending availability of resources, these grants will incentivize governments to prioritize essential health services including essential reproductive, maternal, neonatal child and adolescent health and nutrition services while preparing for rapid, equitable and safe delivery of vaccines and other COVID-19 tools.  

The GFF’s COVID-19 Essential Health Service Grants announced today for up to a total of $90 million will support Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. Specifically, the funds will help train and protect health workers; engage the community to address COVID-19 fears and vaccine hesitancy; promote the use of essential health services, support emergency transport and increase supplies of oxygen and blood.  

To finance its support to countries, in March 2021, the GFF launched an urgent fundraising campaign  to raise USD $1.2 billion by the end of 2021 to tackle COVID-19’s secondary health crisis for women, children and adolescents. So far, more than a third of the funding has been pledged, enabling the first two rounds of grants. However, country demand for grants is high, and urgent additional financing is needed. To respond to this need, The Netherlands has announced today an additional 30 million eur for a total of $40 million this year, nearly doubling their annual contribution, to help close the funding gap and ensure women and children are at the center of recovery efforts.  

Strengthening health systems is a global, political priority. Last week, President Biden’s COVID-19 Summit underscored how vital strengthening health systems is to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the G20 Health Ministers’ meeting earlier this month also emphasised the imperative of more resilient health systems. 

H.E. Prof. Awa Marie Coll Seck, Minister of State, Republic of Senegal:  
“COVID-19 has reversed years of progress. Now, more than a year and a half in, the crisis is still far from over affecting millions, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. The GFF has stood with countries since the beginning of the pandemic, helping them to keep the focus and take action to ensure women, children and adolescents are not left behind. Senegal is proud to support the GFF in this effort to help countries drive changes and build an inclusive system that works for all.”  

Nooliet Kabayana, Secretary General, CSOs GFF Coalition, Rwanda NGOs Forum: 
“The GFF’s support has been vital in Rwanda to help unlock bottlenecks and support community-led response to deliver essential health services. With this funding, we can deal with issues caused by COVID-19 and some of its collateral impact that is too often neglected. We call on donors to fully fund the GFF to help meet country and community demand.” 

Tom de Bruijn, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Netherlands:
“Poor countries are hit hardest by the pandemic. Even before corona, hospitals were struggling with lack of capacity and had to bear the burden of other health crises, such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Women and girls are the first to miss out on essential healthcare. These factors allow infectious diseases to spread quickly. That is why this additional contribution is also in the interest of the Netherlands. I urge other countries to do the same. Only by strengthening healthcare systems in poorer countries can we make it through this pandemic.”

Juan Pablo Uribe, Director, GFF: 
“There can be no more doubt that the secondary health crisis and COVID-19 are two sides of the same coin. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the GFF has been helping countries to make investments that put women, children and adolescents at the core of response and recovery efforts and strengthen health systems. We thank the Netherlands for their generous contribution and ongoing support and leadership to this agenda. With additional financial contributions from our partners, we will be able to meet the high demand from countries and help build a more equitable recovery.” 

About the Global Financing Facility

The Global Financing Facility (GFF) is a multi-stakeholder partnership of the World Bank that supports country-led efforts to improve the health of women, children and adolescents. With the GFF, countries are making smarter, more prioritized, results-focused investments toward greater impact on the health, nutrition and well-being of women, children and adolescents; building capacity for more sustainable funding for this agenda; and exploring more innovative ways to work with the private sector. Since the GFF was founded in 2015, partner countries have made significant progress to improve maternal and child health.