THE World Bank expects to triple its lending for health programmes to $3 billion this year to mitigate the impact of the global credit crisis in poor countries, senior officials said on Thursday.
â€œThe health sector is particularly badly affected,â€ Julian Schweitzer, World Bank director of health, nutrition and population, told reporters in Geneva.
Some developing countriesâ€™ health budgets are shrinking, while currency devaluations in some mean that imports of drugs are more costly, he said.
Remittances from workers living abroad are also normally lower during recessions.
â€œWorld Bank lending for health will be up from just less than $1 billion to $3 billion this year,â€ Schweitzer said, referring to its financial year which ends on June 30.
Joy Phumaphi, the World Bankâ€™s vice president for human development, urged donor countries to honour their foreign aid commitments for health during the slowdown.
â€œThis financial crisis could unravel many of the hard-fought gains in health over previous decades unless we all hold the line on the flow of development aid and health spending,â€ she said, estimating that for every 1 percent drop in gross domestic product, 20 million additional people are pushed into poverty.
â€œWhat this means for households is that they will have even less money available for health,â€ said Phumaphi, a former health minister of Botswana.
It can take up to 10 years for health services to recover even to pre-crisis levels, if services are reduced, she warned.
World Bank triple health lending