Long-term socio-economic trends and underfunded public health systems left the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region ill-prepared to respond to the pandemic, contributing to a tenuous and uneven recovery as the region struggles to emerge from COVID-19.
The World Bank’s latest regional economic update, titled Overconfident: How Economic and Health Fault Lines Left the Middle East and North Africa Ill-Prepared to face COVID-19, details how MENA’s health systems were stressed prior to the pandemic, as high public wage bills crowded out investments in social services such as health, a symptom the report describes as "fiscal myopia".
Overall, the estimated cumulative cost of the pandemic in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) losses in the region by the end of this year will amount to almost $200 billion. These costs are calculated by comparing where the region’s GDP would have been if the pandemic had not hit. According to the report, the region’s GDP contracted by 3.8% in 2020 and is forecast to grow by 2.8% in 2021.
At this seminar, Rachel Yuting Fan, Economist, and Ha Nguyen, Senior Economist, Office of the Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region, presented the main findings of the report.
8am-9am, Tuesday November 16, 2021 (Japan Standard Time)
Economist, Office of the Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank
Rachel Yuting Fan is an Economist in the World Bank's Office of the Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa, where she is in charge of data and statistics, and coauthored in flagship publication of MENA Economic Monitor that presents macroeconomic outlook and economic challenges for countries in the region. Prior to the current position, she was a Research Officer at the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund, where she was in charge of IMF’s Primary Commodity Price System, and coauthored in multiple issues of World Economic Outlook. She graduated from Peking University with dual degree in Economics and in International Studies, before receiving her Master in Economics from the University of Virginia.
Senior Economist, Office of the Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank
Ha Minh Nguyen is a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa Region. He joined the World Bank in July 2009 as a Young Economist after earning a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park. He also holds a M.A. and B.A. in economics from The University of Adelaide, Australia. His research interests are International Finance and Economic Development.
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