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PRESS RELEASE September 16, 2020

Investing in Human Capital a Top Priority for Ukraine Amid Pandemic, says World Bank

KYIV, September 16, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic threatens hard-won gains in health and education over the past decade, especially in the developing countries, a new World Bank Group analysis finds. Investments in human capital—the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives—are key to unlocking a child’s potential and to improving economic growth in every country. 

The 2020 Human Capital Indexincludes health and education data for 174 countries covering 98 percent of the world’s population up to March 2020, providing a pre-pandemic baseline. The update also presents a decade-long view of the evolution of human capital outcomes from 2010 through 2020, finding improvements across all regions of the world, where data are available, and across all income levels. These were largely due to improvements in health, reflected in better child and adult survival rates and reduced stunting, as well as an increase in school enrollment. This progress is now at risk due to the global pandemic.

“Amid the pandemic, protecting and investing in people is more vital than ever, as this can lay the foundation for sustainable, inclusive recoveries and future growth,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.

“The pandemic makes clear the importance of strong healthcare systems, resilient and flexible education systems, and social protection programs that provide help to those in need.” 

Of the 48 countries in Europe and Central Asia included in the 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI), 33 are among the upper-third in the world, and almost all are in the top half. However, there are significant variations within the region. Among the region’s emerging and developing economies, a child born in Poland can expect to achieve 75 percent of the productivity of a fully educated adult in optimal health. In contrast, a child born in Tajikistan, can expect to achieve only 50 percent productivity.

In Ukraine, a child born today can only expect to achieve 63 percent of the productivity of a fully educated adult in optimal health. While this is above the average for countries of a similar level of economic development worldwide, it is below the average of Europe and Central Asia. Most disconcertingly, and in contrast to most other countries in the region and the world, in Ukraine there has been no improvement in the HCI between 2010 and 2020. This means that more and better targeted investment in education, health care, and social protection is needed in order for the Ukrainian people to reach their full human potential.  

“The World Bank is helping Ukraine to develop long-term solutions that will build a more resilient, inclusive economy. We aim to protect human capital during the pandemic and to set the stage for greater human capital improvements in the post-pandemic era,” said Arup Banerji, World Bank Regional Country Director for Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine). 

“On-going World Bank-supported projects to enhance human development total $800 million, with a further $500 million planned by June 2021”. 

In the health sector, the World Bank is helping to develop services for people with non-communicable diseases, improving the quality of care provided in hospitals including by modernizing emergency departments and stroke units, and training thousands of Ukrainian doctors. In response to Covid-19, the World Bank is also strengthening testing capacities. A large social protection project provides means-tested social assistance for the most vulnerable as well as better social services, and in order to protect people from financial hardship during COVID-19 is further expanding the number of people covered and the generosity of payments. A new higher education project, currently under preparation, will better ensure that graduates have the skills needed to get good jobs and also respond to the needs of the pandemic by equipping higher education institutions with the ability to do remote teaching and enhance digitalization across the education sector. 


The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. We will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. This includes $50 billion of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans.


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Sona Panajyan
Dmytro Derkatch
Viktor Zablotskyi