The World Bank Group said it was mobilising up to US$ 3.1 billion this year in health financing to help developing countries battle th r eats to their social services due to the global economic crisis.
The bank, which made this known in a statement made available to the Pan African News Agency (PANA) in Washington DC on Saturday, said the amount tripples the s u pport from one billion dollars last year.
It said the financial support will be used to strengthen health systems in devel oping countries, boost their performance in preventing and treating communicable
It will also be used to improve maternal and child health, hygiene and sanitatio n.
The bank disclosed that it was also doubling its education financing this year i n low and middle-income countries to US$4.09 billion.
PANA reports that the new health and education financing followed a recent annou ncement that the bank’s investments in social protection programmes, including s o cial safety nets, are expected to rise for 2009-2010 to US$12 billion.
The World Bank’s Vice President for Human Development, Joy Phumaphi, said in the statement that “the global economic downturn has taken a wrecking ball to growt h and development in the developing world”.
She said the crisis had led to “children dropping out of school and poor familie s eating cheaper, less nutritious food which can result in weight loss and sever e malnutrition, especially for young children and pregnant women”.
Phumaphi, who is former health minister for Botswana, however, noted that “we ca nnot afford a ‘lost’ generation of people as a result of this crisis.
“It is essential that developing countries and aid donors act now to protect and expand their spending on health, education and other basic social services and t arget these efforts to make sure they reach the poorest and most vulnerable grou p s,” she added.