Big results, require big ambitions and there are few bigger for primary healthcare than universal immunization coverage. Governments have committed to this through the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) and the Addis Declaration on Immunisation (ADI). And while there has been good progress over the last decade – 86% of children globally now receive basic vaccinations – far too many children are still missing out. One in seven children under the age of one is still excluded from basic immunisation.
You may not have noticed it, but the planet grew a bit safer over the weekend. Starting last Saturday, the world finally became formally insured against pandemics like the dreadful Ebola outbreak that caused so much loss and suffering three years ago.
Many people were bitterly disappointed when four cases of wild polio were discovered in August 2016 in insecure areas of Borno State in the northeast of Nigeria. Nigeria had gone for almost two years without any cases of wild polio being detected, and was just a year away from being able to declare polio eradicated.
The negative impacts of the drought don’t stop at the risk of famine: More than 680,000 people have been displaced from rural areas in the past six months. Approximately 1.4 million children will need treatment for acute malnutrition. The scarcity of safe drinking water has led to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) and cholera in 13 out of 18 regions, resulting in 618 fatalities since January 2017, according to UNOCHA.
[Read report: Forcibly Displaced: Toward a Development Approach Supporting Refugees, the Internally Displaced, and Their Hosts]
So what is being done to help the people in Somalia cope with this crisis? Today, World Bank projects in the poorest countries contain a mechanism to redirect funds for immediate response and recovery. IDA’s “Crisis Response Window” provides additional resources to help countries respond to severe economic stress, major natural disasters, public health emergencies, and epidemics.
In May 2017, the Bank approved a US$50 million emergency project – Somalia Emergency Drought Response and Recovery Project (SEDRP) – to scale up the drought response and recovery effort in Somalia. Supported by funding and technical assistance from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the project aims to address, in the immediate term, the drought and food crisis, and also to finance activities that would promote resilient and sustainable drought recovery.
In the video, World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and SEDRP’s project leader Ayaz Parvez discuss in detail how the World Bank and its partners are working to help communities in Somalia build up their resilience in the face of the food and drought crisis.
Today we’re releasing a revamped Health, Nutrition & Population (HNP) Data portal which offers a quick look at over 250 indicators covering topics such as health financing and the health workforce; immunization and the incidence of HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, non-communicable diseases and the causes of death; nutrition, clean water and sanitation, and reproductive health; as well as population estimates and population projections.
We encourage you to explore the resources above, here are three stories you can find in the data:
Delivery assistance provided by doctors, nurses, and trained midwives can save the lives of mothers and children. While more than 70 percent births are attended by skilled health staff worldwide, this average falls to 51 percent in low-income countries. The poorest women are least likely to deliver babies with assistance from skilled health staff at birth.
A little over six years ago, Neelam Kushwaha’s first daughter was born weighing 900 gm at birth, severely underweight. Neelam went into labor while working at the local construction site in Jori village, Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, India. Many people work at such local construction sites in rural areas for daily wages ranging from INR 150-280 (about $2- 4$) per day. Her daughter Manvi, was preterm, and Neelam spent months recovering from child birth complications.
Three years later, when Neelam was pregnant with her younger daughter, Sakshi, she quit wage labor and sought employment at an incense manufacturing unit established by World Bank’s Madhya Pradesh District Poverty Intervention Project (MPDPIP) in 2011. At her new role, she earned more and did not engage in labor intensive work during the final months of her pregnancy. Sakshi was born a healthy 3 kilos.
In the course of my field work supported by South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI) in 2015, I came across several similar stories.
MPDPIP’s livelihood based approach offered several opportunities towards income supplementation for women self-help groups (SHGs) and rural households through agriculture, dairy/poultry farming and local enterprises, among others.
As evident by Neelam’s experience, MPDPIP’s benefits went beyond income and spilled over into health improvement as well.
I learnt that prior to MPDPIP, childbirth in hospitals was difficult due to prohibitively high costs of travel and hospital stay. Pre-existing government schemes such as the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) offer about INR 1,400 ($20) to rural women who opt for hospital deliveries. However, this payment occurs post-partum, and pre-delivery costs have to be borne upfront by pregnant women.
Post MPDPIP, women were able to opt for hospital deliveries with greater ease due to access to credit from their SHGs. This is particularly relevant for Madhya Pradesh as it has consistently fared poorly with respect to institutional deliveries.
Video: Artificial intelligence for the SDGs (International Telecommunication Union)
Along with my colleagues on the ICT sector team of the World Bank, I firmly believe that ICTs can play a critical role in supporting development. But I am also aware that professionals on other sector teams may not necessarily share the same enthusiasm.
Typically, there are two arguments against ICTs for development. First, to properly reap the benefits of ICTs, countries need to be equipped with basic communication and other digital service delivery infrastructure, which remains a challenge for many of our low-income clients. Second, we need to be mindful of the growing divide between digital-ready groups vs. the rest of the population, and how it may exacerbate broader socio-economic inequality.
These concerns certainly apply to artificial intelligence (AI), which has recently re-emerged as an exciting frontier of technological innovation. In a nutshell, artificial intelligence is intelligence exhibited by machines. Unlike the several “AI winters” of the past decades, AI technologies really seem to be taking off this time. This may be promising news, but it challenges us to more clearly validate the vision of ICT for development, while incorporating the potential impact of AI.
It is probably too early to figure out whether AI will be blessing or a curse for international development… or perhaps this type of binary framing may not be the best approach. Rather than providing a definite answer, I’d like to share some thoughts on what AI means for ICT and development.
Globally, more than 700 million women alive today married before the age of 18. Each year, 15 million additional girls are married as children, the vast majority of them in developing countries. Child marriage is widely considered a violation of human rights, and it is also a major impediment to gender equality. It profoundly affects the opportunities not only of child brides, but also of their children. And, as a study we issued this week concludes, it has significant economic implications as well.
The rate of change in human development outcomes varies considerably across countries over long periods of time, as reflected in the two histograms below (Figure 1). For 78 countries in the period 1980-2014, the percentage decline in child mortality was 3.39% on average, with a standard deviation of 1.36%, a smallest rate of 0.89% (Central African Republic) and a highest rate of 8.07% (Maldives). The average percentage increase in school enrollment was 3.35%, with a standard deviation 3.54%, a minimum of 0.37% (Georgia) and a maximum of 19.68% (Maldives). Similar patterns of cross-country variation are found when using alternative proxies for health and education outcomes.