World Bank sets goal of expanding healthcare to 1.5 billion people by 2030

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank Group on Thursday unveiled a new goal to help countries deliver affordable healthcare to 1.5 billion people by 2030 by expanding services to remote areas, cutting fees and other financial barriers and focusing on lifetime care.

The development lender said it would deploy financing, its own health expertise and new partnerships with private-sector firms, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups in reaching the target, which it defines as a person receiving treatment by a health care worker through an in-person visit or a telehealth appointment.

The World Bank estimates about 2 billion people around the world face severe financial hardship when paying for health services. This is being exacerbated by climate change, pandemics, conflicts, societal aging, and a projected shortfall of 10 million healthcare workers by 2030, it said.

“Providing a basic standard of care for people throughout their lives is critical for development,” World Bank President Ajay Banga said in a statement. “This ambition won’t be realized with a solo effort. It will require partners, a coalition of public and private sector, working together to expand access to healthcare services.”

The World Bank said financing from its International Development Association fund for the poorest countries will aim to bring healthcare workers into communities where people may otherwise have no access to services.

In middle-income countries, the World Bank said its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development will deploy financing to incentivize government investments in health and regulations that provide market certainty and can attract private-sector investment, including in pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

The World Bank added that Japan is launching a knowledge hub on its universal healthcare system aimed at enhancing other healthcare ministries’ capacity and expertise, an initiative supported by the World Bank and the World Health Organization.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Paul Simao)

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