MSH Receives Development Marketplace Award

World Bank awards funding to Management Sciences for Health for maternal health work in the Brazilian Amazon

WASHINGTON, DC (JANUARY 25, 2002) — Management Sciences for Health (MSH) was recently awarded $94,940 through the World Bank's highly competitive 2002 Development Marketplace (DM) competition. One of only 34 programs to receive a portion of the total $4 million funding, MSH with its partner the Manicoré Municipal Secretary of Health, will use the award to help increase access to quality primary health care services in the Brazilian municipality of Manicoré.

The competition was open to NGOs, businesses, academia, and foundations, and awards were made to projects with innovative ideas for addressing significant development challenges. Development Marketplace Team Leader Arshad Sayed said, "[the World Bank] received 2,400 proposals from over 122 countries for this year's competition--this reflects the fact that people all over the world truly want to be involved in the fight against poverty and are trying to make the world a better place."

In Manicoré, the only hospital is located in the town center, which is a prohibitive distance from most of the municipality's rural population. Travel can take up to several days by boat. Community Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants help to address health problems in some river communities, but their work is often constrained by a lack of needed supplies and resources. Other issues in the municipality, such as the lack of basic infrastructure, a substandard educational system, and a stagnant economy, further exacerbate the problems associated with Manicoré's health system.

The consequences of the system's inadequacies are particularly evident in the area of reproductive health. Official health statistics indicate that of all registered births in Manicoré, more than 50% of the women receive little or no prenatal care during their pregnancies, and nearly 25% of births occur outside the hospital. Although there is no official data on maternal deaths, the infant mortality rate is the third highest in the state at 48 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Management Sciences for Health's project activities will correspond with Brazil's national priorities for health service delivery, and will be carried out both in the town center and in 12 selected river communities with very limited access to health services. The project will design an integrated system of quality maternal health care delivery that will link Community Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants at the community level. It will also help to ensure better health care for women by developing emergency procedures, including a cellular telephone system, a small speedboat for rapid transport of at-risk women, and floating clinics that periodically visit river communities.

A participatory development approach will be used to empower both health consumers and providers and establish a continuum of quality maternal health care for women living in Manicoré. By increasing access to quality maternal and child health services, the project will contribute to a reduction in maternal mortality and morbidity, thereby enabling women to lead more productive lives and help to strengthen their families and their communities.

"This initiative is an important collaboration and step toward improving the lives of women and children in great need," said Catherine Crone Coburn, President of Management Sciences for Health. "We are grateful to the World Bank for recognizing this project with a generous contribution."

Following the first year, the project intends to extend activities to the other 213 river communities within the municipality and eventually to other municipalities within the state. Furthermore, in collaboration with project participants, MSH will document and disseminate information about project activities, focusing on the effectiveness of the unique partnerships among NGOs, public institutions, and private enterprises as a means of improving maternal health outcomes in remote river communities in the Amazon.