The World Bank pioneered global HIV and AIDS financing early in the emergency and remains committed to achieving Millennium Development Goal 6, to halt by 2015 and begin to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS, through prevention, care, treatment, and mitigation services for those affected by HIV and AIDS.
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Growing up in Iowa, I was often judged solely on appearance. In stores, strangers would make karate-chop gestures at me, inspired by the popular TV series “Kung Fu.” When I played quarterback for my h... Show More +igh school team, opponents were not above slamming me to the dirt and then piling on racial slurs.These incidents embarrassed me and made me self-conscious. But they are trifling indignities compared with the discrimination that many people around the world face based solely on their sex, age, race or sexual orientation.I raise this in light of the law Uganda enacted this week, which could imprison for life those convicted of homosexuality, and the increased violence against gays in Nigeria after an anti-gay law took effect there this year.These countries are in the news now, but our focus should be much broader: 81 other countries — in the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Middle East — have passed laws that make homosexuality illegal. In the United States, although Arizona’s governor vetoed a bill this week that would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay people, nine states have laws that limit how public school teachers can talk about homosexuality. More than 100 countries discriminate against women. And an even greater number of countries still have laws that discriminate against minority groups.Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies. Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies. There is clear evidence that when societies enact laws that prevent productive people from fully participating in the workforce, economies suffer.Discrimination against women is a case in point. A World Bank study last year of 143 economies found that 128 countries still have at least one legal difference in how men and women are treated, which constrains women’s economic opportunities. These barriers include laws that make it impossible for a woman to independently obtain an ID card, own or use property, access credit or get a job.In 15 economies, husbands can prevent their wives from working, although in the past two years Ivory Coast, Mali and Togo have reformed such restrictions. Show Less -
Policy Interventions Can Turn the Tide, Says World Bank ReportWASHINGTON, November 20, 2013 – A new World Bank report warns that risky behaviors –smoking, using illicit drugs, alcohol abuse, unhealthy... Show More + diets, and unsafe sex— are increasing globally and pose a growing threat to the health of individuals, particularly in developing countries. The report looks at how individual choices that lead to these behaviors are formed and reviews the effectiveness of interventions such as legislation, taxation, behavioral change campaigns, and cash transfers to combat them.Risking your Health: Causes, Consequences and Interventions to Prevent Risky Behaviors concludes that legislation and taxation, for example, tend to be effective, especially when combined with strong enforcement mechanisms. Cash transfers also have proven to be promising in some settings. Behavior change campaigns, such as school-based sex education and calorie-labeling laws, are often less effective on their own, unless they are complemented with broader risk behavior change programs.“Risky behaviors not only endanger an individual’s health and reduce life expectancy, they often impose consequences on others,” said Damien de Walque, Senior Economist in the World Bank’s research department and principal editor of the report. “The health consequences and monetary costs of risky behaviors to individuals, their families, and society as a whole are staggering and justify public interventions.”The report finds that despite recent progress in prevention and treatment, the HIV/AIDS epidemic —one of the most devastating consequences of risky sex— remains a heavy burden in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in its southern cone where between 11 and 26 percent of all adults are HIV positive. Drug and alcohol abuse have been relatively stable over the past decade, but smoking and obesity linked to unhealthy diets are on the rise in many developing countries and have the potential to substantially increase mortality and morbidity. Close to 20 percent of the world’s adult population smoke cigarettes and smoking causes more than 15 percent of deaths among men and 7 percent among women globally. While smoking prevalence is decreasing in the developed world, it is on the rise in many developing countries. Obesity due to both unhealthy foods and physical inactivity is also increasing in the developing world, especially in the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, and Latin America and the Caribbean where many countries are experiencing obesity rates above 20 percent for males and more than 40 percent for females.Engaging in such risky behaviors, according to the report, exerts a significant toll on the individual’s productivity in the long-run. Society suffers as immediate peers of those who engage in risky behaviors may also experience declines in their productivity. Children are at particular risk, for example if they have to stop schooling due to a sick parent or if development of their cognitive abilities is compromised due to early exposure to harmful substances. Furthermore, in most low-income countries, it is difficult to formally insure against these costly consequences, given the rarity of both health insurance and public or private disability benefits. According to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, 75 percent of private expenditure on health was financed through out-of-pocket payments in low-income countries in 2011. “Individuals’ risky behaviors that cluster amongst the poor ripple throughout entire populations, crippling families’ potential and undermining the great health and economic progress we’ve seen in low- and middle-income countries in recent years,” said Tim Evans, Director of Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group. “Reversing the tide of these pernicious behaviors by promoting societal conditions for better health choices will pay dividends for families and countries across the globe, ultimately helping us end extreme poverty and promote inclusive and healthy growth.”The report concludes that the costs and spillovers associated with risky behaviors justify public interventions and that certain policies, when done properly, can improve overall welfare. Evidence suggests that legislation tends to be effective, especially when enforcement mechanisms are strong. Tax policies can be efficient mechanisms to prevent smoking and alcohol consumption. Most of the evidence comes from developed countries, but emerging evidence from developing countries –such as from China and Indonesia for tobacco taxes and from Kenya for alcohol prices— points in the same direction. Show Less -