Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005, 12:01 a.m. ET

Jon Gardner
(301) 347-3930



Global Health Organizations Need To Address Funding, Systems To Address Widespread Disease Threats, Development Official Says

In Interview, World Bank Officer Says Organization Views Health As A Vital Part Of International Development Strategies

BETHESDA, MD—Organizing health systems and financing continues to present the biggest challenges as international aid officials try to reduce the burden of such global diseases as HIV/AIDS and malaria, a top World Bank official says in an interview published today on the Health Affairs Web site.

Jean-Louis Sarbib, senior vice president for human development at the World Bank, says that the Bank has increased its spending for HIV/AIDS twentyfold in a single decade, but the growing flood of funding has strained its ability to get resources to the field when “underdeveloped” health systems are dealing with multiple health problems. He was interviewed 23 May 2005 by Philip Musgrove, an editor of the Disease Control Priorities Project.

“It’s not enough, but we’ve gone from $300 million available for HIV/AIDS ten years ago to $6 billion spent in 2004,” Sarbib says in the interview. “But what is happening is that this money is not being disbursed fast enough. We have gone from the challenge of financing as the major bottleneck to the challenge of implementation. So the attention is turning to systems.”

International programs for malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other public health problems are realizing they “should also do something for systems, so the risk is that we’re going to have a verticalization of systems,” Sarbib says. “We need to make sure that these various disease-specific programs talk to each other and realize that in the end, the systems will have to deliver on malaria and TB and AIDS and vaccination programs.”

But, Sarbib adds, “We have to recognize that to mobilize funding, you need to talk diseases, but to use this funding, you need to talk systems.”

Developing health systems and eliminating disease are not simply goals of the World Bank, but part of the Bank’s approach to economic development of poorer nations, Sarbib says.

“The more we integrated health as part of the development strategies of the countries, the more we’ve begun to establish the relationship between investing in health and overall economic and social results,” he says. “There are clearly some relationships between the health of the population and an attractive investment climate. For example, many companies that are thinking of investing in Africa today are put off by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”

The interview can be read at content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/hlthaff.w5.341.


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. Peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at www.healthaffairs.org. Health Affairs Web Exclusives are available free of charge to all Web site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which they will revert to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. The abstracts of all articles are free in perpetuity. Web Exclusives are supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.


©2005 Project HOPE–The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.