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Introducing the online guide to the World Development Indicators: A new way to discover data on development

World Bank Data Team's picture

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the World Bank’s premier compilation of international statistics on global development. Drawing from officially recognized sources and including national, regional, and global estimates, the WDI provides access to almost 1,600 indicators for 217 economies, with some time series extending back more than 50 years. The database helps users—analysts, policymakers, academics, and all those curious about the state of the world—to find information related to all aspects of development, both current and historical.

An annual World Development Indicators report was available in print or PDF format until last year. This year, we introduce the World Development Indicators website: a new discovery tool and storytelling platform for our data which takes users behind the scenes with information about data coverage, curation, and methodologies. The goal is to provide a useful, easily accessible guide to the database and make it easy for users to discover what type of indicators are available, how they’re collected, and how they can be visualized to analyze development trends.

So, what can you do on the new World Development Indicators website?

1. Explore available indicators by theme

The indicators in the WDI are organized according to six thematic areas: Poverty and Inequality, People, Environment, Economy, States and Markets, and Global Links. Each thematic page provides an overview of the type of data available, a list of featured indicators, and information about widely used methodologies and current data challenges.

A massive new dataset to help promote health equity and financial protection in health

Adam Wagstaff's picture

Today we’re (re)launching HEFPI—aka the Health Equity and Financial Protection Indicators database. HEFPI sheds light on two major concerns in global health: a concern that the poor do not get left behind in the rush to achieve global health goals; and a concern that health services should be affordable. Neither concern featured in the MDGs; both feature prominently in the SDGs.

The HEFPI database draws on data from over 1,600 household surveys, including the Demographic and Health Survey and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey. Most of the 1,600 surveys have been re-analyzed in-house to ensure comparability across surveys and years, since published indicators from different surveys often use different definitions. We have settled on a definition based on recommendations in the relevant literature, and have used that across all surveys and time periods. As a result, the numbers in HEFPI are often different from (and more comparable than) numbers published elsewhere.

The database is, in effect, the fourth in a series. The first was in 2000. That database focused entirely on MDG-era health service and health outcome data—so no financial protection data. It covered just 42 countries, each with one year’s worth of data. The second (in 2007) and third (in 2012) gradually expanded the scope, with the 2012 dataset covering both financial protection and health equity, and getting up to 109 countries, including some high-income countries.

New data released to help tackle health disparities and catastrophic health expenditures

Tim Evans's picture
Woman receives a health check-up. Agusan del Sur, Philippines / (C) World Bank



The last 20 years or so have seen many shifts of emphasis in global health. Among them, two stand out: a concern that the poor do not get left behind in the rush to achieve global goals and a concern that health services are affordable.

However, these were not big issues in global health in the last century. In 1996, one of us (Timothy Grant Evans) launched the Global Health Equity Initiative while at the Rockefeller Foundation, in response to what we and others described as the “disturbing disparities” between rich and poor.

It’s time for ‘Nutrition Smart Agriculture’

Diego Arias's picture
(C)  Diego Arias / World Bank

Helena Costa, a smallholder from Sao Tome & Principe, has been investing in her family’s small agribusiness for a decade, wanting it to be more productive, more profitable, and produce quality fruits and vegetable products to supply local and export markets.  The quality improvements she’s invested in include food safety practices, shifting to organic production, and planting biofortified crops.  However, these food quality improvements are not yet recognized by the market. So, for Helena, improving the nutritional value of her food products is an extra cost that puts her at a disadvantage in relation to her competitors. 

Addressing child malnutrition in Yemen: Muneera's story

Malak Shaher's picture
Muneera (UNICEF)

“We had lost hope,” said Muneera’s father. “As her health deteriorated and her body weakened, we worried that she could not last much longer.” Six months short of her fourth birthday, Muneera was suffering the effects of malnutrition, which had put her life in danger. Though she lived near Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, Muneera’s family did not have the resources to take her for medical care. Like thousands of other children in Yemen, the deteriorating conditions due to ongoing instability had led to malnutrition.

Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people
Primary school students are attending their class in northern Balkh Province. Photo credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Today, the World Bank Group released the first Human Capital Index (HCI), a new global indicator to measure the extent to which human capital in each country measures up to its full potential.
 
The HCI is part of the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Project intended to raise awareness about the critical role human capital plays in a country’s long-term growth and to galvanize the country’s will and resources to accelerate investments in its people as its most important asset.
 
Afghanistan’s overall HCI indicates it fulfills only 39 percent of its full potential, conceptualized as 14 years of quality education and survival until age 60
 
As dire as this may sound, the overall HCI score places Afghanistan just around a place where it is expected given its income level—in fact, slightly higher than an average low-income country.

On World Mental Health Day: A call to invest in interventions for young people

Patricio V. Marquez's picture
Image: WHO World Mental Health Day 2018

Many of us have vivid memories of the joy and excitement of young adulthood, but this can also be a time of stress, apprehension and fear of the unknown. For many young people, this unease can lead to acute anxiety, severe depression or substance use disorders, if not recognized and managed.

Young people living in environments where they face death and suffering daily, such as in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2015, in post-tsunami or earthquake-affected areas, or in countries experiencing extended conflict and violence, are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.

This year’s World Mental Health Day, on Oct. 10, recognizes this critical time in life with the theme “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.” Many changes occur during adolescence and the early years of adulthood, but they are not always acknowledged or treated.

Investing in people of South Asia for prosperity and quality of life

Hartwig Schafer's picture
A little girl in Balochistan, Pakistan, who now receives a quality education thanks to World Bank support. 
A little girl in Balochistan, Pakistan, who now receives a quality education thanks to World Bank support. Credit: World Bank 

Human capital – the potential of individuals – is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.

Just look around the world: Technology is reshaping every industry and setting new demands for skills in every profession. The frontier for skills is moving faster than ever before.

To meet that challenge and be able to compete in the global economy, countries need to prepare their workforces now for the tremendous challenges and opportunities driven by technological change.  

To that end, the World Bank will launch next week its highly anticipated Human Capital Index to measure countries’ contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of their workers.

The Index will be released on October 11 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Bali as part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort led by the Bank to accelerate investments in people for greater equity and economic growth.

No doubt, any country ranking gets high visibility and, sometimes, meets controversy. But I hope it triggers a dialogue about policies to promote investments in people.

To be clear, the important purpose of the Human Capital Index is to measure the distance of each country to the highest standard of complete education and full health—or the “frontier”.

The index, irrespective of whether it is high or low, is not an indication of a country’s current policies or initiatives, but rather reflects where it has emerged over years and decades.

Put simply, the index measures what the productivity of a generation is, compared to what it could be, if they had benefitted from complete education and good health.

The index ranges from 0 to 1 and takes the highest value of 1 only if a child born today can expect to achieve full health (defined as no stunting and survival up to at least age 60) and complete her education potential (defined as 14 years of high-quality school by age 18).

Everything you need to know to follow the 2018 Annual Meetings

Bassam Sebti's picture


The IMF/World Bank Group Annual Meetings is an event you won't want to miss. Join us for a week of seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world's financial system. This year's events will take place in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 8-14, 2018.
 
Find out why the World Bank, countries, and partners are coming together to try to close the massive human capital gap in the world today. Catch the launch of the new Human Capital Index on October 11, 2018, and spread the message that it’s critical to #InvestinPeople.
 
The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, and the Government of Indonesia are also co-sponsoring a first-ever technology fair to bring innovation to the heart of the Annual Meetings.
 
This three-day “showcase” will feature 28+ innovators – companies from around the world – who will demonstrate the powerful role that technology can play in spurring development, strengthening financial development and inclusion, and improving health and education outcomes. The 2018 Innovation Showcase will run from October 11-13 in the Bali International Convention Center.
 
So, start planning your #WBGMeetings experience. Connect, engage and watch to take full advantage of everything the Meetings has to offer. We've got you covered on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

How antimicrobial resistance (AMR) stewardship is a critical part of strong health systems

Uzo Chukwuma's picture


Under the East Africa Public Health Laboratory Networking Project, diagnostic capacity has been strengthened through the construction of state of the art laboratories. © Miriam Schneidman / World Bank Group 2018


My interest in public health began in childhood and was marked by my experiences growing up in a low-income country with limited public health infrastructure. I felt firsthand the impact of an inadequate public health system when a beloved cousin succumbed to AIDS. My mother suffered a prolonged, resistant infection with complications after invasive surgery, and my family constantly battled malaria due to drug resistance or counterfeit drugs.


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