Press Release



Global Financing Facility report: As COVID-19 continues to disrupt health systems, emerging trends show that prioritizing women, children adolescent health increases health system resilience – and underscores need for additional investment

  • New portal brings together for the first time women, child and adolescent health and nutrition, health systems and financing data to inform decision making, improve transparency and mutual accountability.

November 16, 2021 WASHINGTON D.C. – The Global Financing Facility Annual Report 2020-2021 released today shows mixed progress across key health indicators in many of the world’s poorest countries as COVID-19 continues to disrupt health systems and essential health services for women, children, and adolescents. At the same time, it shows that country leadership, long-term funding and foundational GFF support has helped to build resilience, highlighting the importance of further investment for continuing on a positive trajectory.

The report makes clear the pandemic has had a negative impact on maternal and child health progress across GFF partner countries, putting years of gains under threat. For example, progress in prenatal care reversed in six countries and slowed in another six compared to previous years. Similar trends were observed for safe deliveries in health centers where progress reversed in two countries and slowed in nine. Family planning services also declined in five countries.

Long-term investment in maternal, child and adolescent health coupled with foundational support is helping build resilience to shocks

Countries that have been implementing with the collective support of the GFF partnership for three or more years saw higher average annual growth in pregnancy care, safe deliveries, and family planning outcomes than countries which only recently joined the partnership. For example, uptake of antenatal care visits improved by 23% annually for this first group compared with 3% for the second group.

Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank and Director of the GFF said: When countries are able to prioritize and invest in women’s children’s and adolescent health by strengthening frontline services, their health systems are more resilient and able to withstand shocks. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, progress across the GFF portfolio illustrates the need for sustained and increased investments to help countries respond to the pandemic and build resilience by strengthening primary health care and frontline service delivery.”  

Almost two-thirds of countries implementing with GFF partnership support for three or more years were able to reduce geographic equity gaps despite COVID-19. In contrast, countries that recently joined the partnership saw increasing geographical inequities for antenatal and postnatal care, institutional deliveries, immunization, and family planning.

Positive trends across the portfolio of partner countries include:

  • Mozambique increased antenatal coverage from 49% in 2018 to 53% in 2019 and 59% in 2020
  • Kenya increased assisted deliveries from 67% in 2019 to 78% in 2020
  • Uganda accelerated the rate of progress in uptake of antenatal care from 9.3 percent growth on average between 2016 and 2019 to 10.7 percent growth between 2019 and 2020

Progress remains fragile

With results variable and health systems vulnerable, progress remains fragile – leaving many women, children, and adolescents, especially the poorest and those hard to reach, without access to essential services. Based on new data on service disruptions, it is estimated that for each officially reported COVID-19 death, more than two women and children have lost their lives because of disruptions to health systems since the start of the pandemic.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the GFF has provided technical and financial support for countries to plan, resource and implement strategic shifts to maintain essential services such as reproductive and nutrition and address demand constraints. Earlier this year, the GFF launched an effort to raise $1.2 billion to help countries ‘reclaim the gains amid the pandemic’s devastating impacts for women, children and adolescent health. As an implementing partner of the ACT-Accelerator, the GFF will help countries protect essential health services, strengthen health systems, prepare for the rollout of COVID-19 tools and strive for a resilient and inclusive recovery.

New data portal launched

To advance its country- and data-led approach, GFF is launching a new data portal that brings together for the first time transparent, user-friendly women, children and adolescent health and nutrition, health systems and financing data to help facilitate use of the data for decision making, transparency and mutual accountability. The portal will help track health and nutrition indicators across 36 countries, including interactive subnational data maps and time-trend data.

This year's report shows the power of the GFF partnership whose collective action has helped countries to chart the path towards a more inclusive recovery, but there is a closing window of opportunity and urgent action is needed now,” said Pauline Irungu, PATH and CSO representative. “Through its country-led model, and with increased investments from donors and partner governments, countries and communities can continue to drive the step changes needed to deliver on the right to health for all women, children and adolescents.”

"As we work together to end this pandemic, we have our eye on the future. The GFF is focused on ensuring that the investments we and our partner countries make now are done with a view toward getting back on track as soon as possible and building a better future for women, children and adolescents,” said Monique Vledder, Head of Secretariat.

Contact: Nansia Constantinou; | +1 202.458.5008

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. Learn more here: Annual report