On the eve of World Health Day, we are reminded that improving health is a critical contributor to productivity and country competitiveness. Health contributes greatly to better learning in children, and better productivity overall, all essential for socioeconomic development. However, health is not only a contributor to development—it's a purpose of development.
Societies seek better productivity and country competitiveness not as results in themselves but as instruments for people to live healthy productive lives. Healthy productive people weave the fabric of socially stable and productive societies that are full of opportunity.
Ensuring that people live longer lives also means that these lives should be free of diseases that tend to appear with aging—such as hypertension and diabetes—which dramatically alter people’s ability to follow their aspirations and participate in society. The burden of these non-communicable diseases has a significant impact on people and on countries’ fiscal sustainability and competitiveness.
At the World Bank, we support countries through our financing and timely, quality, and effective policy advice to help them build strong health systems so they can achieve the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015, protect people from falling into poverty due to illness, and meet the challenges of non-communicable diseases and other emerging health issues associated with longer lives.
World Health Day is a reminder to us to redouble our collective efforts to deliver lifesaving health care to those that need it—especially to reduce maternal and child mortality, where we are lagging behind—and at the same time, support countries in achieving their aspirations to achieve universal health coverage. We at the World Bank are committed to working closely with the World Health Organization and global and country partners to achieve these objectives.