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Lessons from Latin America’s experience with H1N1

Sameer Vasta's picture

Laboratory tests on the flu.

The World Bank announced earlier this year that it would back Mexico’s fight against Influenza A (H1N1) with $205 million in fast-disbursing funds. Since then it has supported more than a dozen countries in Latin America in their efforts to control the effects of the virus.

Latin America’s experience with the H1N1 virus in the last six months has revealed that early, aggressive and honest communication with the public and a strong public health surveillance system are critical in mounting an effective response to the virus.

Keith Hansen, World Bank Health Expert for Latin America and the Caribbean, recently spoke about the Bank's work in the region:

"Epidemics can be very costly for the economy, for business, and this is why it’s worth investing a great deal to strengthen and maintain good surveillance and public health control measures. Also, the economy is not the measure of all things. The fundamental issue is that people’s lives, health, productivity and happiness are all at stake. Epidemics aren’t entirely preventable but they can be minimized, and that’s the role of a good public health system, and partners, such as the Bank, can support this."

In the upcoming week, Keith Hansen will post a few videoblog entries here on the Meetings Center, explaining more about the virus, the Bank's work, and some of the issues being discussed at the Meetings.

If you have any questions for Keith Hansen, you can ask him directly at our Speak Out online chat on health systems.

Bank to give Mexico $205 million for swine flu

Nina Vucenik's picture

Augustin Carstens, Development Committee Chair, Finance Minister, MexicoAt the Development Committee closing press conference, Bank President Bob Zoellick together with Agustín Carstens, who is Mexico's Finance Minister as well as Development Committee Chair, announced that the Bank is giving Mexico more than $205 million to help the country fight the Swine Flu virus.

According to news reports, the virus has killed up to 81 people in Mexico city and a sickened more than a thousand people since the outbreak began.

“We're extremely grateful for the prompt response by the World Bank -- such promptness is always very, very appreciated,” said Carstens. “But beyond resources, what is also important is all the experience that the World Bank has accumulated in precisely having assisted other countries in this type of situation."

The project will be fast-tracked so that funds can be disbursed within 3-5 weeks.