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There are otters in the city

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

Photo by budak via Flickr CC

When a family of 10 smooth-coated otters appeared in Singapore’s urban downtown of Marina Bay last year, the city was ablaze with excitement and delight. Who would have thought that these otters would make a dense urban environment like Singapore home? After all, otters were thought to have vanished in the 1970s as Singapore rapidly developed into a dense metropolis.
 
Was this a fad? Probably. Was this a big deal? Absolutely. In a small city-state where land is considered a scarce resource, the tension between urban development and biodiversity conservation can be very pronounced. This was not the case in Singapore. Between 1986 and 2010, as Singapore’s urban population doubled from 2.7 to 5 million, its green cover also increased from 36% to 50%, all within the confines of just 710 square kilometers. The increase in green cover in urbanized Singapore was seen as a sign that the efforts by the urban planning agency, parks and water management boards had paid off, and a testament that the natural environment could be indeed be integrated effectively into the urban fabric of the city.
 
Today is World Environment Day. This year, it celebrates the theme of “connecting people to nature,” and invites us to think about how we are part of nature—and how intimately we depend on it.

The Middle East, version 2.0.

Bassam Sebti's picture


Let’s be honest. The Middle East and North Africa is burning, and in some areas it is literally burning. Conflict and fragility have long warped what once was the cradle of civilization and the inspiration for the many inventions we can’t live without today. However, in the midst of that fire hope rises, a driver of change that is transforming the ugly reality into a bright future.
 
After I fled the war in Iraq in 2006, I was pessimistic about what the future was holding for that region. Year after another, the domino-effect of collapse became a reality that shaped the region and its people. Yet, fast-forward to 2017, I have witnessed what I never thought I would see in my lifetime: the new renaissance in the Middle East and North Africa.
 
I have just recently come back from attending the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the Dead Sea in Jordan. This year, the Forum and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, partnered to bring together 100 Arab start-ups that are shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
 
There, the positive vibe was all around; no negativity, no pessimism. Instead there was a new sense of optimism and enthusiasm, hunger for change, and the will to take the region to a whole new future, away from conflict and the current norm of pessimism.

New Zealand has much to offer the world

Annette Dixon's picture
 
New zealand - World maps on line
New Zealand Map.  Photo Credit: Academia maps GeoAtlas


When people think about New Zealand’s most famous son, Sir Edmund Hillary, they mostly think about the quiet Auckland bee-keeper who conquered Everest in 1953.

Of course, there’s much more to the man. He raised money for the Sherpa communities in Nepal that built schools, hospitals and much more. His commitment to the people of South Asia was also reflected in his successful term in the 1980s as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India.

As the most senior New Zealander in the management of the World Bank, I have come to appreciate Sir Edmund’s commitment to the people of South Asia and believe it shows how much New Zealand can offer the world.  This will not only make the world a better place but can also help New Zealand too.

World No Tobacco Day 2017: Why Does It Matter?

Patricio V. Marquez's picture


"Sugar, rum, and tobacco, are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, [but] which are ... objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation."

-    Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)


World No Tobacco Day 2017 focuses on the links between tobacco use, tobacco control, and sustainable development. Does this mean that tobacco use is more than a public health issue?  The answer is an emphatic yes, rooted in robust scientific evidence accumulated over the past five decades and country experiences worldwide. Let me explain.

All hands on deck: new evidence on the need for a multi-sectoral approach to reducing childhood stunting

Emmanuel Skoufias's picture



In Indonesia, chronic malnutrition is widespread with more than one-third of young children being stunted. Despite the reduction of the poverty rate from 16.6% to 11.4% from 2007 to 2013, the rate of stunting amongst children under the age of five has remained alarmingly high, exceeding 37% in 2013, although that figure has declined in the last two years. Stunting has important lifelong consequences for health, as well as for cognitive development, education, human capital accumulation, and ultimately for economic productivity.

However, to reduce stunting it’s not only important to focus on the health sector. It also requires improvements in other sectors such as agriculture, education, social protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). As originally emphasized by the UNICEF conceptual framework, to ensure that a child receives adequate nutrition depends on four critical factors: care, health, environment, and food security, areas that straddle multiple sectors.

Statement on appointment of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tim Evans's picture
On behalf of the World Bank, I extend our very warm congratulations to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on his election as Director-General of the World Health Organization.  He brings a wealth of expertise and experience that will help steer WHO to have even greater impact. We look forward to strengthening our collaboration with WHO under the leadership of Dr.Tedros in our common pursuit of supporting countries to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage and to improve their preparedness to manage epidemic threats.
        

Transforming Kenya’s healthcare system: a PPP success story

Monish Patolawala's picture


Photo: Direct Relief, Flicker Creative Commons

The Kenyan government launched its national long-term development plan, Vision 2030, in 2008 with the aim of transforming Kenya into a newly-industrialised, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all citizens by 2030, in a clean and secure environment.

Constructed around three key pillars – economic, social and political – the blueprint has been designed to address all aspects of the country’s infrastructure and economy, with a key component of the social pillar consisting of ambitious healthcare reforms. Ultimately, the government’s goal is to ensure continuous improvement of health systems and to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare to tackle the high incidence of non-communicable diseases that affect the region.

Confessions of an Armenian (aspirational former) smoker

Vigen Sargsyan's picture
no smoking Armenia
First confession: I am a seasoned smoker.

Next confession: I have long dreamed of adding “former” to that status. From time to time, my inner struggle reaches a crescendo, but then the momentum vanishes until the next wave of self-examination.
 
Smoking is the worst, if not the most stupid habit I have. I definitely understand that the damage caused to my health from smoking cannot be undone. I suspect my habit is a bit generational: my father was a smoker – until the doctors came up with a verdict – and the smell of smoke has been at home since my childhood. My son picked it up too, unfortunately. The only change between the generations is that my dad smoked at the table; these days we lean on the balcony.

How a new eLearning course will help improve countries’ civil registration and vital statistics systems

Samuel Mills's picture

 

Civil registration and vital statistics systems enable parents to certify
children at birth. A birth certificate provides proof of age, which enables
access to essential services (e.g., health care, education, welfare grants) and
protects against child marriage and child labor.
Photo: Ray Witlin / World Bank


For some people in low- and middle-income countries, opening a bank account, taking out a loan, obtaining a driver’s license, or sending their children to school is out of reach because they don’t have official documents that prove their legal identity. Why do some people lack birth certificates, marriage certificates, family members’ death certificates, and other documentation?

Three things we need to know about “SOGI”

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture


May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, or IDAHOT.
 
Why should we care about IDAHOT? Because sexual orientation and gender identity, or SOGI, matters.
 
Here are three things we need to know about SOGI:
 
First, SOGI inclusion is about zero discrimination
 
Despite some legal and social progress in the past two decades, LGBTI people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. Sometimes, being LGBTI is even a matter of life and death. They may be your friends, your family, your classmates, or your coworkers.


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