The Board of Executive Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a loan of 115 million euros to finance the third phase of the PARCOUM Program to support key institutional reforms of medical coverage in Morocco . The program will be implemented in 2014. "PARCOUM aims to reduce cost and expand social safety nets for the poorest and most vulnerable in order to provide equitable access to quality health care for all Moroccans. This program is a major component of the Bank's fight against poverty and our inclusive growth agenda," said Zondo Sakala, AfDB Vice-President for Country and Regional Programs and Policy. Access to healthcare in Morocco is still limited. Since 2005, the Moroccan Government invested in large-scale social projects such as the Human Development Initiative and the creation of the RAMED Scheme. Despite significant efforts to improve access to care, more than half of the population (51%) still do not benefit from social protection. Health expenditures represent a heavy burden for Moroccan households who bear up to 53.6% of health care expenses. Poorer households are sometimes faced with catastrophic health expenditures which place them at risk of falling more deeply into poverty due to their illness. Disparities in medical coverage still prevail in Morocco , particularly between urban and rural areas. While the first phase of the program (2002-2006) aimed at strengthening the basic medical coverage of the workforce in the formal sector, PARCOUM II aimed at improving access to quality health services for disadvantaged populations through RAMED. "We are pleased to support the Government of Morocco in its path towards universal health coverage. The vision of inclusive growth in Morocco and its efforts to ensure access to healthcare for the poorest must be commended," said Agnes Soucat, AfDB's Director for Human Development . This third phase aims to provide a social safety net for workers in the informal sector, who currently have little or no health insurance and/or social security. PARCOUM III is a continuation of previous efforts to support the implementation of basic medical coverage reforms. In particular, it aims at providing a social safety net for workers in the informal sector who currently have little or no health insurance and/or social security. "We welcome the level and quality of cooperative relations between Morocco and the African Development Bank for the valuable and ongoing support it provides to Morocco for the implementation of key structural reforms," said Mohamed Faraj Doukkali , Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco in Tunis . The loan will be disbursed in two tranches (2013 and 2014) with the following key objectives: (i) achieve 93% coverage of the RAMED target population; (ii) expand Compulsory Health Insurance (CHI) scheme with at least 200,000 additional members and the development of a long-term strategic vision for the coverage of self-employed workers; (iii) improve availability of quality services; (iv) increase the number of CHI members with family doctors from 21% to 40% in 2014; and (v) promote citizens participation and strengthen accountability in Morocco , through the establishment of a pilot project to assess users' perception of care quality. This program is aligned to the objectives of the Bank's Ten Year Strategy 2013-2022 and its draft Human Capital Strategy 2014-2018, which includes a pillar focusing on inclusive financial and social systems. PARCOUM is also in line with the Government's program which aims to improve access to basic social services for the entire population. "The African Development Bank , the largest financier in Morocco , has a long experience of budget support in various sectors of the Moroccan economy. To date, the Bank recorded a volume of commitments of E2.4 billion through 28 operations and 16 loans. In 2013, the Bank has already granted for the social sector in Morocco a loan of E116 million for the Adequacy Training and Employment Programme as well as eight grants for a total amount of E2.9 million," said Jacob Kolster , AfDB Operations Director for the North Africa region.
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