WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — The World Bank says drops in health spending has jeopardised recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the Caribbean and other developing countries.
“Despite what will likely be the fastest economic growth in the aftermath of any recession in the last 80 years, 52 countries are expected to reduce per capita government spending below pre-COVID levels over the next five years,” said the Washington-based financial institution.
Based on a new World Bank paper released on Tuesday, developing countries will be unable to finance their share of a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, invest in better preparedness to protect themselves from future crises and make progress toward Universal Health Coverage.
According to the paper titled “From Double Shock to Double Recovery: Widening Rifts,” governments will have to make bold choices to avoid falls in government health spending.
In a group of 126 countries, the World Bank said per capita government spending is projected to exceed pre-COVID levels by 2026.
It said in 52 countries, by that time, overall government spending will, however, remain below 2019 levels.
The World Bank said a return to pre-COVID-19 growth rates in per capita government health spending in the poorest of these countries would require the share of spending assigned to health to almost double, from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.
“The economic shock from COVID-19 is threatening the capacity of governments to spend sufficiently on health, threatening COVID-19 recovery and health security for all,” said Mamta Murthi, World Bank Vice President for Human Development.
“Cash-strapped countries will have to make tough choices in health investment to safeguard essential health services, stay on a path toward Universal Health Coverage, and build resilience for the future.”
While bringing the current pandemic to an end will require significant investments in vaccines and vaccination programmes, the World Bank said countries must also build resilience by investing in preparedness and ensure affordable health services for their populations, especially poor people.
Yet, according to the paper, this is becoming a near impossibility for some countries.
“The projected net growth in health spending during 2021 and 2022 will cover only 28 per cent of the countries’ cost share of a vaccine roll-out in low-income countries, and 43 per cent in lower-middle-income countries,” said Christoph Kurowski, lead author of the paper.
He added: “The projected growth in government health spending in these countries by 2026 will cover approximately only 60 per cent of the necessary annual investment to strengthen and maintain public-health preparedness and response capabilities.”