The World Bank attempts to improve health in poor countries by providing advice in health financing and infrastructure development, as well as grants and loans to poor countries. This is a formidable mission given that the greatest difficulty poor countries have in carrying out public health programs is their lack of infrastructural, managerial and clinical capacity. Its efforts to this end have been diluted by irresponsible forays into disease control financing without a commensurate increase in institutional competence with only limited technical staff capacity. Instead of deferring to the World Health Organization for technical advice on malaria control, Bank staff members have promoted ineffectual malaria prevention and treatment, causing countries to move away from best practices in disease control. The Bank has been criticized in the Lancet medical journal, and its senior staff claim that changes have been made. This working paper reviews the most recent performance from the Bank, which demonstrates the continuing failure of its malaria work. The Bank should stick to its core mission of funding health systems and get out of the disease control business.
Roger Bate is a resident fellow at AEI.