Dr. Tim Evans, the Senior Director of Health, Nutrition, and Population at the World Bank Group, addressed the Georgetown community earlier this month. Dr. Evans discussed the role of the World Bank Group in investing in health, highlighting the global burden of stunting among children. He also addressed high out-of-pocket payments, which strains discretionary spending capacity of individuals.
To fulfill its goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, the World Bank has five institutions that provide developmental assistance to middle-income and low-income member countries through varying financing structures. However, while ambitious projects like the “Onchocerciasis Control Program” and the eventual use of Ivermectin to control River Blindness corroborate the importance of the World Bank in global health, the concept of “investing in health” is rather new, with accounts of several economists in the past dismissing the idea as untenable. The 1993 “World Development Report – Investing in Health” formalized the need to invest in health and recognized the role of health in poverty reduction. These health investments are of even more significance today, as evidenced by the transition of the World Bank Group to become the largest external funder of health.
In addition to summarizing the importance of investing in global health, Dr. Evans discussed the World Bank’s “Human Capital Project” – the Bank’s newly focused ambition to elevate human capital in the developing world. In tangent with the World Bank’s recently published “World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work,” Dr. Evans highlighted the importance of investing in people, which is a departure from the historical focus of investing in physical capital. Lack in global equity can be partially attributed to gaps in social factors, such as occupational opportunity, skills development, and quality education. In response, the Human Capital Project aims to help developing countries prioritize human capital indicators that will prepare the next generation for sustained economic prosperity. Mitigating child stunting, promoting maternal well-being, and increasing early childhood education are but a few of the initiatives the Human Capital Project promotes.
The Department of International Health was proud to organize this lecture – part of series that allows graduate students to engage with global health practitioners.