News / Africa

World Bank Issues Regional Health Reports

Hassana Ousmane rests her head against the bed where her 21-month-old daughter, Zeinab, suffering from malaria, rests at the Princess Marie Louise Children's Hospital in Accra, Ghana, April 25, 2012.
Hassana Ousmane rests her head against the bed where her 21-month-old daughter, Zeinab, suffering from malaria, rests at the Princess Marie Louise Children's Hospital in Accra, Ghana, April 25, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on World Bank health studies

Joe DeCapua
The World Bank has released new reports outlining the health challenges facing six major regions. Those challenges include not only many types of disease, but road accidents as well. The bank says the reports will help policymakers develop evidence-based health programs after the Millennium Development Goals expire.

The World Bank has released the reports in conjunction with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Timothy Evans is the bank’s director of Health, Nutrition and Population.

“What we see when we look beyond the global picture is that there’s a lot of regional specificity to trends in the burden of disease. And so the regional focus just allows us more detail and attention to what’s happening in different regions of the world.”

He said the world is too diverse to have a one-size-fits-all health plan.

“That doesn’t work anywhere,” he said, “That doesn’t work globally. It doesn’t work regionally. It doesn’t even work within a country. So the more understanding you have of context and need the better able the system is to respond appropriately.”

Evans outlined the ongoing health challenges for sub-Saharan Africa.

“The big one remains communicable diseases. That relates to HIV and malaria, but also the childhood killers – diarrhea and pneumonia – being two of the biggest. And of all the regions in the world, sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where there are more deaths and life years lost from communicable diseases than other types of illness or injury,” he said.

Dramatic progress has been made against malaria through insecticide treated bed nets and indoor spraying. As for HIV/AIDS, greater access to antiretroviral drugs has saved many lives. Nevertheless, the World Bank regional report says these two diseases remain major health problems.

Road accidents are also a top killer, not only in sub-Saharan Africa, but in most of the regions studied.

Evans said, “What we’re seeing is a dramatic surge in mortality and injury from road traffic accidents. And this is a reflection of many, many, many more vehicles on the road – great increases in vehicle ownership -- and very inadequate investments in the infrastructure related to road traffic safety.”

The World Bank official said that the road accident fatality rates in Africa are a hundred times greater than those in the United States.

In North Africa and the Middle East, the MENA region, the health concerns are a bit different than those in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The large majority of the burden of disease is tied up in what we call the non-communicable diseases – the chronic illnesses -- diseases of aging and lifestyle. And so problems with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke. These are the lion’s share of the burden of disease in the MENA region,” he said.

Much of North Africa and the Middle East has experienced and is experiencing violence and conflict. Evans says that has a direct effect on the health of populations in those countries – Syria, Libya and Egypt, for example.

Evans said, “Health does well in conditions of security. Health is really threatened in conditions of insecurity and it relates to some of the terrible violence that you see, which is often associated with situations where the normal rule of law has been lost and there’s armed violence and other sorts of problems. But the second is that the uncertainty often leads to mass movements of people across borders [and] into territories where they’re not necessarily welcome.”

What’s more, violence and conflict cause many skilled professionals to leave causing a brain drain.

The World Bank has also issued health reports for other four other regions.

In South Asia, much progress has been made regarding communicable diseases and maternal health. However, the region is hard hit by chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Child undernutrition also remains a big problem.

East Asia and the Pacific have some of the world’s highest rates of diabetes and a high fatality rate from road accidents.

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the World Bank says alcohol related illnesses are a major problem, along with communicable diseases, such as HIV.

And the Latin America and the Caribbean region is seeing an increase in ischemic heart disease or reduced blood flow to the heart, as well as big increases in depression and low back pain.

The World Bank provides two forms of support for the regions: loans and information to help formulate health plans. The information is expected to be used to evaluate the success of the expiring Millennium Development Goals and in deciding what, if anything, will replace them after 2015.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs