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A look back and a look ahead: The World Bank Group's Health, Nutrition, and Population Global Practice

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Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Hard to believe, but we are now already a month into 2017. Before we plunge into the rest of the year, I want to take a moment to acknowledge all of the important work we have undertaken together in 2016, and to thank you for the part you have played in the progress made by the Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice at the World Bank Group.

Now in its third year, our Global Practice continues to grow and learn guided by our 2030 vision of Universal Health Coverage. Our $11.9 billion portfolio invested across 74 low and middle income countries is helping countries to achieve priority health and nutrition results by supporting reforms in key areas such as patient centered primary care, financial protection, regional disease surveillance and taxes on tobacco. These investments are backed by in-depth regional and country analyses, strong stakeholder relationships at the local and global levels, and the unparalleled opportunity for multi-sectoral collaboration afforded to us by our location at the World Bank.

While we take pride in the trajectory of our work, there is no time, or room, for complacency. Growing economic, political, ecologic and pandemic volatility, demands new approaches to ensuring an appropriate level of readiness for crises such that health systems respond and rebound. In this regard, sustaining and accelerating progress towards UHC - universal access of quality services without financial compromise - will require new heights of collective ingenuity. Our sights are set high, and while the conditions may not be ideal, our ideals are not conditional. Thank you for working with us, and we look forward to much fruitful collaboration in the year ahead.

With best wishes,
Dr. Timothy Evans
Senior Director
Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice
World Bank Group


World Bank Provides $150 Million to Combat Zika Virus 
When the Zika  crisis hit Latin America and the Caribbean in January 2016, the World Bank announced  $150 million to combat it and also released new  economic analysis that estimated the virus could cost the region as much as $3.5 billion in losses during the year. We worked with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), as well as governments throughout the region, on a robust response to Zika.  
Read more:  WSJ |  Scientific American

Putting Mental Health on the Global Development Agenda
As part of a high profile  two-day series of events held during the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, a WHO-led report found that every US$ 1 invested in treating depression and anxiety leads to US$ 4 in health and economic gains. The events engaged global thought leaders and government officials to push for increased investment in mental health globally.
Read more:  The New York Times | The Guardian

First UHC Financing Forum Galvanizes New Era of Health Financing
At the first  Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Financing Forum, co-hosted by the World Bank and USAID, government representatives, experts and development partners pushed to raise public and private resources for all countries to assure affordable, quality health services to all of their people by 2030.
Related:  The Lancet | Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala:  Mobilizing domestic resources

Global Investment Framework for Nutrition Launched 
The World Bank unveiled a  groundbreaking analysis outlining the investments needed to accelerate progress on nutrition worldwide. At  the launch event with R4D, the Gates Foundation and 1000 Days at the WB Spring Meetings, Bill Gates said, “ If I had to pick one investment that would be the most impactful, that would be nutrition.”

New Financing Facility to Protect Poorest Countries against Pandemics
Ahead of the G7 in May, the World Bank Group  launched the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), an innovative, fast-disbursing financing mechanism designed to protect the world against deadly pandemics.  PEF will also create the first-ever insurance market for pandemic risk.
Read more:  Financial Times: WB launches first insurance market for pandemic risk

Joint WB-China Report Recommends Deep Healthcare Reform in the country
sweeping two-year study conducted by the World Bank, WHO and the Government of China recommended deep reforms to its health system to meet the new health challenges of a higher-income society. These recommendations form the basis for reform under China’s new five year plan.

Joint Learning Network Helps Countries Extend Health Coverage to the Poorest People
The  Joint Learning Network for UHC is a robust, innovative community now based in 27 countries.  Several Ministers of Health and other stakeholders at a July high-level  global convening in Malaysia learned from each other’s experiences and efforts to extend health coverage to all their citizens.

Tobacco Tax Increase Adopted by Four Governments 
The governments of Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, and Colombia raised tobacco taxes in 2016. Speaking to the Moldovan parliament,  World Bank Country Manager Alex Kremer said the measure they were adopting would protect the lives of Moldova’s children, save on health spending and raise revenues.
Read more:  Plain packaging & tobacco taxes: an antidote for manipulation and deception

Partners Launch Framework to Accelerate Universal Health Coverage in Africa
At the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) hosted by Japan, African Heads of State and other key partners  vowed to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) in Africa and launched  UHC in Africa: A Framework for Action. The World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (Global Fund) committed to investing $24 billion in Africa over the next three to five years.

Drug-Resistant Infections Could Cause Global Economic Damage on par with 2008 Financial Crisis
World Bank report released ahead of the September UN General Assembly (UNGA) showed that a high-severity scenario of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could cause low-income countries to lose more than 5% of their GDP and push upto 28 million people into poverty by 2050. This poverty analysis of AMR informed the official  day-long special session on AMR held as part of UNGA.
Read more:  The Economist |  Financial Times | Reuters

GFF is Catalytic Pathfinder for Financing Women and Children’s Health 
The Global Financing Facility (GFF)’s new report entitled “ Country-Powered Investments in Support of Every Woman, Every Child.” showed broad, high -level political support for GFF’s approach of aligning varied sources of financing behind country plans for reproductive, maternal and child health. Heads of state and government, multilateral organizations, international organizations, private companies and civil society organizations lauded its innovative approach.

Nine Countries Pledge Investments in Children’s Early Years, Powering Economies for Growth
At the first Human Capital Summit during the World Bank Group-IMF October Annual Meetings,  nine developing countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America pledged to make a range of major investments to dramatically reduce childhood stunting and improve early stimulation and learning, to equip all children for success in a fast changing world.

First-ever Pandemic Simulation for Ministers of Finance
The first of several ‘Pandemic Simulations’ was held at the WB-IMF Annual Meetings. This exercise, for Ministers of Finance from developing countries, brought to life the serious socio-economic impact of pandemics and the need for countries to invest urgently in pandemic preparedness.  Read more also about WB’s post-Ebola work in West Africa through  the REDISSE project and the new publication  Faces of Resilience

World Bank Injects $122 million to Tackle TB in Southern Africa
Maputo hosted the  regional launch of an innovative $122 million Southern Africa regional TB project focused on prevention, detection and treatment of TB; strengthening the region’s capacity for disease surveillance, and supporting regional learning. Earlier in the year, World Bank Group President Jim Kim  delivered a keynote address for World TB Day emphasizing the role of strong health systems to fight TB.

Key UHC Indicator Adopted for SDGs
The Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the SDGs accepted the WHO and World Bank’s  proposed indicator on financial protection for SDG target 3.8 on UHC. This was a coordinated effort, with WHO and the World Bank providing the technical basis for the indicators, civil society groups working tirelessly to persuade decision-makers to agree to them, and countries showing their commitment by adopting them.

UHC Day: Realizing the Promise of Universal Health Coverage
The second annual  Universal Health Coverage Day on December 12 saw over 90 events around the world and renewed global commitment to achieving UHC. For us, it was also a time to reflect on how we will measure global  progress towards this goal.

Global Partners Make Record $75 Billion Commitment to End Extreme Poverty
2016 ended with a powerful commitment by a coalition of more than 60 governments   to a record $75 billion IDA replenishment.  IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, will now be able to dramatically scale up the fight against extreme poverty over the next three years, including expanding progress towards UHC.

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