The World Bank announced earlier this year that it would back Mexico’s fight against Influenza A (H1N1) with $205 million in fast-disbursing funds. Since then it has supported more than a dozen countries in Latin America in their efforts to control the effects of the virus.
Latin America’s experience with the H1N1 virus in the last six months has revealed that early, aggressive and honest communication with the public and a strong public health surveillance system are critical in mounting an effective response to the virus.
Keith Hansen, World Bank Health Expert for Latin America and the Caribbean, recently spoke about the Bank's work in the region:
"Epidemics can be very costly for the economy, for business, and this is why it’s worth investing a great deal to strengthen and maintain good surveillance and public health control measures. Also, the economy is not the measure of all things. The fundamental issue is that people’s lives, health, productivity and happiness are all at stake. Epidemics aren’t entirely preventable but they can be minimized, and that’s the role of a good public health system, and partners, such as the Bank, can support this."
In the upcoming week, Keith Hansen will post a few videoblog entries here on the Meetings Center, explaining more about the virus, the Bank's work, and some of the issues being discussed at the Meetings.
If you have any questions for Keith Hansen, you can ask him directly at our Speak Out online chat on health systems.