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Why crossing the Congo was so special

Eva Jarawan's picture

Eva Jarawan in the DRC

Even during the busy Spring Meetings here in Washington, my thoughts keep going back to two places I visited this month that lie on either side of the Congo River. I crossed the great river by boat from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, a special journey for many reasons. In Brazzaville, capital of the tiny Republic of Congo, I’d been impressed by the quality of leadership in managing additional financing for one of our projects which addresses HIV/AIDS, and on the other side of the river, I was returning to the Democratic Republic of Congo after a long gap, to find that a health systems rehabilitation project I’d worked on many years ago was in fact thriving and delivering good results.

Today being World Malaria Day, I must register that I saw some extremely useful work going on in Kikimi, a very poor neighborhood near Kinshasa. Our partnership with local NGOs to provide better health services across DRC looks like it’s working well here. Instead of just being shown reports on inputs and equipment, which I’ve found frustrating in the past, this time I met a large number of women who told me about insecticide-treated bed nets they’d received during routine visits to their health center and how useful these nets were to prevent malaria. I saw pharmacy shelves well-stocked with malaria drugs, oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea, and basic antibiotics. The project wasn’t perfect but it was delivering results that I could see with my own eyes.

Scaling Up Nutrition: Remembering the 'Forgotten MDG'

Julia Ross's picture

April 24, 2010- Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. Meeting for a high-level nutrition roundtable in Washington—co-hosted by Canada, Japan, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank—ministers and other senior representatives heard how better nutrition. John Rwangombwa, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda

The consensus at today’s high-level meeting on “Scaling Up Nutrition” was this: the world can do better for its hungry children.  Many of the Ministers and donor agency leaders who spoke at the event acknowledged the global commitment to fighting malnutrition had fallen short.  As many as 3 million mothers and young children die each year due to lack of nutritious food.

OECD figures show that development aid for nutrition has been modest, with commitments of less than $300 million a year – one reason why nutrition has been labeled the “forgotten” Millennium Development Goal.

Better drug supply chains keep thousands more children alive

Monique Vledder's picture

On April 21, a few days before World Malaria Day, we announced some very encouraging results from a pilot project in Zambia through which we were testing various improvements in the public sector supply chain for lifesaving drugs. What we had been trying to do, with support from DfID and USAID, was to remove bottlenecks and get key supplies like pediatric malaria drugs off the shelves in district storage facilities and out to patients in rural areas on time.

When private sector techniques--like hiring someone to plan drug orders based on actual consumption in rural public health centers--were used to strengthen the public sector supply chain, we saw that the availability of pediatric malaria drugs nearly doubled in rural health centers in the 16 pilot districts.

This is a very significant finding, as just 7 percent of children in rural Zambia receive first-line treatment for malaria within 24 hours of developing fever (Zambia National Malaria Indicator Survey, 2008). We estimate that if these techniques are scaled up nationwide, 27,000 children could be saved from malaria deaths between now and 2015—cutting child mortality from malaria by 37 percent in Zambia.

Closing the net gap in advance of World Malaria Day

Melanie Zipperer's picture


 

 In most cases, achieving real development outcomes on the ground is very complicated. But in the case of protecting people from malaria, it is simple. The disease is easily preventable and treatable.

On the prevention side, we know that insecticide treated nets work. So, everybody in countries with high malaria prevalence should have one. 200 million mosquito nets have been already delivered across sub-Saharan Africa.

This is protecting half of the world’s population at risk. 100 million more are being produced and delivered. But we still need 50 million more nets to ensure that people in danger are protected. That's why the World Bank today closed half that gap by providing funding for an additional 25 million nets.

One more promise kept: the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

Fionna Douglas's picture

Launch of Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

A remarkable thing happened at the US Treasury in DC today; the United States, Canada, Spain, South Korea and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to pool resources, and as Bill Gates described it, “put small holder farmers, especially women, front and center” of a new multilateral agriculture and food security program. The Gates Foundation will contribute $30 million.

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) will focus on increasing agricultural productivity and linking farmers to markets. A special feature of the program is the focus on country ownership that puts countries in the driver’s seat.

The GAFSP was created in response to a call from G20 leaders last year for the World Bank to work with interested donor to set up a multi-donor trust fund to implement some of the $22 billion in pledges made by the G8 leaders at L’Aquila, Italy.

Bank Group receives support for more funds, expanded ‘voice’

Angie Gentile's picture

October 5, 2009 - World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings Istanbul, Turkey. Press Briefing. World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankThe joint World Bank-IMF advisory body, known as the Development Committee, committed to the G20’s call for more resources for the Bank to help developing countries respond to the global economic crisis.

Concluding its first day of talks on the Bank’s work and impact at the 2009 annual meetings, the committee expressed support for a general capital increase, a multibillion multilateral food trust fund, and a new crisis facility for the world’s 79 poorest countries.

The Development Committee also agreed to “voice” reform to ensure developing countries get a bigger say in how the institution is run—an increase of at least 3 percentage points in voting power, in addition to the 1.46 percent already agreed. This would give them a share next year of at least 47 percent.

In a statement issued Monday, the Development Committee set a definite decision point for shareholders for Spring 2010 on IBRD and IFC capital needs and “committed to ensure that the World Bank Group has sufficient resources to meet future development challenges.”

The committee noted the Bank’s “vigorous response” to the crisis, including a tripling of IBRD commitments to $33 billion this year and IDA reaching a historic level of $14 billion. They also said that IFC, which has invested $10.5 billion and mobilized an additional $4 billion through new initiatives, “combined strong innovation with effective resource mobilization.”

Zoellick: Protection for most vulnerable must be permanent part of financial architecture

Angie Gentile's picture

World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. 2009 Annual Meetings, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankBank President Robert Zoellick told an overflowing room of journalists this morning that these annual meetings come at an important time for the work of the Bank Group and its members.

“The G-20 summit last week provided clear markers for the work of the World Bank. But more than 160 countries were not at the G-20 table,” he said. “These meetings can therefore ensure that the voices of the poorest are heard and recognized. This is the G-186.”

Zoellick began his remarks by expressing his sympathy for the people of Indonesia, the Philippines, Samoa and Tonga and others in the region, who have been battered by a series of cataclysmic natural disasters.

The Bank’s President told reporters that developing countries are still suffering from the global economic crisis, and it is important for the G20 to scale up support. He said the meetings offer a platform to follow up on the proposal for a crisis facility for low-income countries—critical to ensuring that protection for the most vulnerable becomes a permanent part of the world’s financial architecture.

Video series documents Bank-supported projects in Turkey

Angie Gentile's picture

Over the next five days, the Bank will be featuring a series of video stories, documenting the challenges and results of projects aimed at addressing Turkey’s vulnerabilities to earthquakes, as well as issues related to health care, landfill environmental protection, small business growth, and women’s development.

Marwan Muasher, World Bank Senior Vice President for External Affairs, talks with Turkish NTV. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankToday’s feature showcases work being done by the Turkish government, with help from the World Bank, to protect the beautiful, ancient city of Istanbul and its inhabitants against the threat of earthquakes. See the video.

Speaking earlier today with Turkish NTV, Marwan Muasher, World Bank Senior Vice President for External Affairs, emphasized the Bank’s commitment to helping all countries work through the economic crisis. He added: “For Turkey in particular, we are focused on helping spur a recovery in domestic consumer demand, as well as job creation. Social protection is very important, to help safeguard those groups most vulnerable to the impact of the slowdown, particularly children and young workers.”

• Turkey: World Bank Country Brief 2009
• Ten Things to Know About the World Bank in Turkey
• Turkey and the World Bank: News and Events
• World Bank Projects and Programs in Turkey

Lessons from Latin America’s experience with H1N1

Sameer Vasta's picture

Laboratory tests on the flu.

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.

Bank to give Mexico $205 million for swine flu

Nina Vucenik's picture

Augustin Carstens, Development Committee Chair, Finance Minister, MexicoAt the Development Committee closing press conference, Bank President Bob Zoellick together with Agustín Carstens, who is Mexico's Finance Minister as well as Development Committee Chair, announced that the Bank is giving Mexico more than $205 million to help the country fight the Swine Flu virus.

According to news reports, the virus has killed up to 81 people in Mexico city and a sickened more than a thousand people since the outbreak began.

“We're extremely grateful for the prompt response by the World Bank -- such promptness is always very, very appreciated,” said Carstens. “But beyond resources, what is also important is all the experience that the World Bank has accumulated in precisely having assisted other countries in this type of situation."

The project will be fast-tracked so that funds can be disbursed within 3-5 weeks.

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