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Health Coverage Key To Cutting Poverty, World Bank Chief Says



Published on 15 January 2014



by Kathryn McConnell

(WireNews)

Washington, D.C.

Tanzania School Group
Tanzania School Group

Universal health coverage is central to reaching the global goal of ending extreme poverty, says World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and the bank is helping developing countries obtain the loans and technical assistance they need to put in place polices that expand affordable health coverage.

Kim spoke January 14 at a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

The United States is committed to working with its allies to eradicate extreme poverty in the next two decades, President Obama said in his February 2013 State of the Union message.

Kim compared efforts to convince governments to invest in expanding health coverage with earlier efforts by activists to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS. He added that universal health coverage would deliver better health outcomes and result in improved productivity and incomes.

He noted that the bank has put a special focus on expanding access to health services for low-income women and their children. He also said that with U.S. funding, the bank plans to expand its efforts in coming years to help low-income countries tap private-sector innovations that would help more citizens obtain health coverage.

“No one should be forced into poverty or be kept in poverty to pay for the health care they need,” Kim said, adding that just 40 percent of low-income people in developing countries have access to basic services like birthing assistance, vaccinations, mental health, and treatment for high blood pressure and diabetes. He also said that countries need to pay attention to providing health education and clean water and sanitation and to adopt policies to curb tobacco use and improve diets and road safety.

In the January 22 edition of the journal Nature, James Shelton, a science adviser to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), writes that developing countries also can promote practices like hand-washing and devote more funding to improving nutrition and promoting low-cost, clean cookstoves.

Kim said the World Bank and the World Health Organization have joined to monitor countries’ progress toward making health coverage available, concentrating on affordability and the quality of service delivery. He said the World Bank also is analyzing how some countries achieve better health outcomes than others and will make that information “accessible, useable and relevant” to policymakers and development workers. He noted that the bank has found that strong national and local leadership are required to redistribute resources so they can achieve and sustain health coverage for more citizens.

He said the bank found that countries of all income levels that have been the most successful in expanding coverage have been “in a mode of continuous learning” about what is happening both inside and outside their borders and adapting their approaches.

“Everyone should have access to affordable, quality health services,” Kim said.

 


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Posted 2014-01-15 16:25:00