Last week, the World Bank hosted the Washington, D.C., launch of The Lancet’s 2011 child development series, four years after the journal revealed that more than 200 million children under five in low- and middle-income countries were not reaching their developmental potential, due to (preventable) risk factors like stunting, iron and iodine deficiencies, and lack of cognitive stimulation. The latest research findings in The Lancet provide even greater clarity on the developmental inequality that continues to plague many millions of children.
I spent a great couple of days earlier this week with representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) from around the world who are members of our World Bank – Civil Society Consultative Group on Health, Nutrition, and Population. When it was launched earlier this year, we envisioned the consultative group as a forum for CSOs and our Bank-wide health team to share perspectives and discuss frankly any concerns we may have about our respective work in health, nutrition, and population, and to learn from one another. So it’s exciting to see this group beginning to move from theory to action.
If you accept my 5 cents of wisdom, you should rush to see the new movie “Contagion.” It is a well done, spooky public health mystery, with great acting. Why you may ask? Simply because it is a timely reminder about the public health risks but also the potential benefits of a globalized world.
Watching the movie brought back vivid memories of passionate discussions we had in the fall of 2005 when we—a Europe and Central Asia and East Asia and the Pacific agriculture and public health team—prepared in a few days what became the $500 million Global Program for Avian Influenza and Human Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
Countries like South Korea and Thailand have seen similar demographic formulas work to their advantage in recent decades: falling fertility rates lead to burgeoning adult working populations lead to greater economic productivity.
How did they harness these changes to create engines of growth? According to speakers at a World Bank panel on “Realizing the Demographic Dividend,” greater investments in health, family planning, and gender equality paved the way, followed by further investments in education, youth development, and job creation.
For the full post, please go to family planning, healthier economies.
Especially under the present constrained financial environment, the debate among development specialists often shifts toward the core requirements for development. Is it infrastructure (regular electricity, good roads, airports, and bridges)? Is macro-economic stability the top priority (good luck with that one, today!)? Or is it human development (good health, education, and social protection services)? Or is it governance linking it all together and managing the available resources well?
Few issues have come so much to the forefront of the development agenda lately as nutrition. Nowadays multisectoral nutrition programs are being developed with high-level attention from policy makers and development partners. In the World Bank, the South Asia region has made nutrition one of its key priorities to be addressed, as we heard at yesterday’s event.
But more importantly, governments in the region also have recognized nutrition as a key development challenge.
With gender equality a main topic for the World Bank's Annual Meetings this week, some of us have done a bit of a reflection on how our investments in health and other human development programs shape, and are shaped by, gender equality. It turns out that during the past 6 years, the World Bank mobilized $28.4 billion -- or nearly three-fourths of the Bank’s financing for human development during this same period -- to help promote gender equality and empower women and girls through investments in health, education, social protection, and labor. Not too bad.
Nearly 400 people gathered at the UN for the High Level Meeting on Nutrition yesterday—it was a “can you believe how far it’s come?” moment for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. Just three short years ago, those working on SUN could have fit into a small conference room. Yesterday’s meeting was a different story: Hundreds of senior representatives from governments and agencies from around the world came together at the UN to inspire and be inspired by a movement to tackle undernutrition. How things have changed in such a short period of time!
As a World Bank staff member, I feel privileged to have participated in two landmark global public health events.
In June 2001 at a UN General Assembly Special Session, world leaders collectively acknowledged—for the first time—that a concerted global response was needed to arrest the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This led to the establishment of the Global Fund and bilateral initiatives such as PEPFAR, which helped fund a scaled-up response to HIV/AIDS, as well as to malaria and tuberculosis. The net result for the most part has been impressive: a dramatic expansion in access to treatment that has saved millions of lives, a significant reduction in the vertical transmission of HIV (mother to child), technological progress resulting in cheaper, more effective treatments, and better knowledge about HIV transmission to guide prevention efforts—while highlighting the need to revamp health systems to make the effort sustainable.
I’m in New York this week at the UN Summit on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), where more than 30 heads of state, 100 ministers, international agencies, and civil society organizations are discussing a pressing global health issue: NCDs. This is a policy nod in the right direction, as NCDs have been largely ignored in development circles even though they cause two-thirds of all deaths in the world (most of them prematurely) and long-lasting ill health and disability, and due to NCDs’ chronic nature, increase the risk of impoverishing millions of people who lack or have limited access to health systems.
Welcome to our new World Bank blog on health and development! Our global health team here at the Bank is passionate about strengthening health systems to save lives and eradicate poverty. We see this blog as a space to foster a dynamic conversation about our work to promote healthy development. We will be sharing what we are learning and doing in the 99 countries where we work in health, and we want to learn from others who share our passion.
So to start the conversation, please take just 2 minutes to watch this video (French/Spanish) and meet our brand new baby Maya. Maya shows us that it takes lots of things for a baby to be born healthy and thrive. It takes a health system, which includes investments in all of the different sectors that impact health (education, infrastructure, clean water, and roads, to name just a few). I hope you like the video. Let me know what you think.