• | 12:02 pm

World Bank mobilizes funds to widen health coverage to 1.5 bn people

World Bank to deploy “all elements of its financing capabilities,” while focusing on improved affordability, expanded reach, and increased scope of services

World Bank mobilizes funds to widen health coverage to 1.5 bn people
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The World Bank Group on Thursday announced an ambitious plan to support countries in delivering quality, affordable health services to 1.5 billion people by 2030.

The move is part of a larger global effort to provide a basic standard of care through every stage of a person’s life—infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Through its new approach, the multilateral institution aims to expand its focus from maternal and child health to lifelong coverage including non-communicable diseases, extend operations to remote areas, and collaborate with governments to eliminate financial barriers to healthcare.

“For decades, the World Bank Group has helped provide health services for women and children in more than 100 countries. A focused effort to become faster, work better with partners, and bring in the private sector has enabled the 80-year-old institution to pursue greater scale and impact,” the World Bank said.

To be counted toward this goal, a person must be seen and treated by a health-care worker via an in-person visit or telehealth, it added.

“Providing a basic standard of care for people throughout their lives is critical for development,” said Ajay Banga, World Bank Group president. “This ambition won’t be realized with a solo effort. It will require partners, a coalition of public and private sector, working together to expand access to health care services.”

Around 2 billion people today are unable to pay for health services, the World Bank estimated.

Intertwined challenges, such as climate change, pandemics, conflicts, societal aging, and a projected shortfall of 10 million health-care workers by 2030, worsens the cycle of poverty and inequality, it added.

The World Bank Group said it aims to combine financing, knowledge, and partnerships to address this challenge.

The Bank said it plans to deploy “all elements of its financing capabilities,” depending on a country’s unique need and stage of development, to reach 1.5 billion people.

“For countries most in need, IDA (International Development Association) financing will make it possible to bring health-care workers into communities where people may otherwise have no access to services. In middle-income countries, IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) will deploy financing to incentivize government investments in health and regulations,” the World Bank said.

With regulatory certainty and reliable governance in place, it opens the door for more private sector investments, especially in local production of medications and protective gear, it added.

In its statement, the World Bank also noted Japan’s move to launch a Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Knowledge Hub to enhance health and finance ministries’ capacity, an initiative supported by the Bank and the World Health Organization.

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