World Bank looks to funding for health transformation in global south

The World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (the Global Fund) have outlined new funding to step up the fight to deliver health systems for some of the world’s poorest countries.

The pair have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining how they will work together to strengthen health systems in countries of the Global South. The goal is to support more efficient, effective, and sustainable financing to improve health outcomes in the face of climate change.

Latest estimates show that more than half of the global population is not fully covered by essential health services and the climate crisis will only increase the demand for effective services, especially for the most vulnerable people.

“We cannot make adequate progress on public health while rising temperatures change the patterns of infectious diseases and breed pandemics,” said World Bank president Ajay Banga. “Our only option is to respond aggressively, simultaneously, and comprehensively. This partnership with the Global Fund is another step forward in our effort to recruit partners and build the coalition that is needed to deliver impact.”

Specifically, the two organisations will work together on climate and health priorities to reduce the burden of malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis (TB) through stronger health systems, including better access to primary healthcare services for the most vulnerable populations. The World Bank estimates that 132 million people may be forced into extreme poverty by 2030 due to climate change; one-third are the result of climate-related health risks disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people.

“To stand a chance at achieving the targets of ending AIDS, TB and malaria, we must redouble our efforts to fight these diseases. That includes investing to build health systems that can withstand the effects of climate change,” said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund. “With malaria serving as an early tracer of the impact of climate on health, we need intensive interventions and strong partnerships to reverse the negative impact of climate change on health.”

The two organisations added they will also advocate for increased financing for health and building country capacity for more efficient and sustainable financing across health systems, including for HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. The goal is to make better use of scarce domestic and international health resources, including through better public finance management in countries. The two organizations will also use various financing modalities, including joint investments and blended finance, and collaborate on joint investments.

Another area of joint focus will be on strengthening the regional production and procurement of health supplies, including drugs and medical devices. Access to essential health supplies is necessary to ensure preparedness and strong and resilient health systems. The organizations will help localize health supply chains by supporting sustainable manufacturing in Africa and low- and middle-income countries.

A spokesman added: “Since 2017, the World Bank and the Global Fund have supported many countries by investing with blended finance transactions. For example, a loan buydown in India helped increase financing for TB care and prevention. In Indonesia, innovative buydown funding was linked to improved detection of TB cases, better treatment coverage, and reforms in provider payments to incentivize primary care. In Haiti, co-financing increased the use of primary healthcare services and strengthened disease surveillance. And in The Gambia, direct co-financing supported strengthened health systems for HIV/AIDS and TB.”

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