Access to and appropriate use of quality assured medicines is integral to a functioning health system. The World Bank works in collaboration with client countries to improve availability, affordability, acceptability and utilization of essential medicines through endorsement of good governance and management practices in the pharmaceutical sector. Special attention is paid to methodology and measurement of results, regulatory and governance issues, and long-term sustainability of improvements in the sector. In the context of expanding health coverage to populations in developing countries, the World Bank works with governments and insurance funds to design pharmaceutical benefit components and ensure that payers get value for money.
The World Bank works in partnership and collaboration with technical agencies such as the World Health Organization and procurement specialists like UNICEF to leverage expertise and learning in the pharmaceutical sector across organizations. The World Bank also acts as a steward of multi-donor trust funds reserved for analysis of and technical assistance in the pharmaceutical sector. An example is the Global Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (GMRH) trust fund, which provides funding for regulatory agencies and regional coordination bodies with the goal to harmonize market access for essential medicines.
A small team within Health, Nutrition and Population of the Human Development Network (HDNHE) focuses on strengthening the pharmaceutical sector in order to improve health outcomes. This team works with the World Bank’s regional and country specialists to help design, implement and evaluate health projects with pharmaceutical components. At the country level, this translates into programmatic work, technical assistance and policy dialogue. The team also disseminates knowledge products and training tools designed for internal regional specialists and technical level staff in client countries.