Six reasons why remittances soared in South Asia during COVID-19

Remittance flows are a major source of income for all countries in South Asia, larger than all other capital inflows combined.  In 2019, India received more remittances than any other country in dollar terms, and Nepal ranked third in the world in terms of remittances to GDP at 27 percent.  Remittances seem to have been even more essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing by 5.2 percent in 2020 in South Asia. But this was somewhat surprising because household surveys globally showed remittances falling, especially in the second quarter of 2020.

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The global recovery is bypassing the poorest countries

The global economy is booming—or so it might seem.

Global growth is surging again, only a year after COVID-19 triggered the deepest recession since World War II.  This year is likely to mark the strongest post-recession rebound in 80 years: global GDP is expected to expand 5.6 percent. Growth in advanced economies is expected to reach 5.4 percent—the highest rate in nearly 50 years—powered by rapid vaccination and unprecedented fiscal- and monetary-policy support since the beginning of the pandemic.  Almost all advanced economies will go back to their pre-pandemic per-capita income levels in 2022. In some parts of the world, clearly, the pandemic’s damage is being repaired quickly.

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COVID-19 and women-led businesses: More innovation but greater financial risk

Over a year into the pandemic, we have witnessed how a sweeping infectious disease and lockdown measures quickly deepened inequalities, hindering the progress that many have fought for years to achieve. One of the most striking examples is the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women.

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Zero-carbon shipping: A sea of opportunities for developing countries

The obstruction of the Suez Canal earlier this year served as a vivid reminder of the importance1195772839_e3ce0cc64a_c_2 of maritime transport for economies around the globe. The blockage was resolved within a matter of days, but a much more existential challenge remains for the shipping industry.

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Optimizing vaccine delivery by teaching healthcare workers digital skills

This blog is part of a series on digital safeguards and enablers for COVID-19 vaccine delivery.health_care_workers_using_digital_tools_1

Countries around the world are developing and executing national plans for COVID-19 vaccine delivery, balancing short-term goals — accelerated mass vaccination to reach herd immunity — with efforts to strengthen long-term health systems. Many, if not all, will be using digital technologies to face the scale and complexity of accelerated mass vaccination administration. Their intended users will need to be equipped with the right digital skills if these digital tools and platforms are to be successful. Likewise, the public health ecosystem needs to acquire the capabilities to develop, operate, maintain, and sustain the underlying databases, services, systems, and infrastructure necessary for the tools to work correctly. 

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Updated estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty: Turning the corner on the pandemic in 2021?

More than a year into the pandemic, there is still much we don’t know concerning its impact on global poverty. Though high-frequency phone surveys have helped gain a broad understanding of the economic consequences of the pandemic, the collection of detailed, household surveys needed to understand its impact on poverty has largely been put on hold. While awaiting household surveys, we continue our previous approach of trying to understand the poverty consequences of the pandemic by extrapolating the income and consumption from past household surveys using national accounts growth forecasts. Simple as it is, this method generally outperforms more complicated methods in nowcasting poverty.

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Primary health care needs to be fit for the post COVID world – how do we do that?

As a physician, I know firsthand the important role that primary health care plays in the health of individuals, families, and communities. When it works well, it is the foundation of a good life and a thriving national health care system.  When it is weak, people suffer.

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Walking the Talk: Reimagining primary health care after COVID-19

Strong primary health care (PHC) saves lives and money and makes health systems work

better for all people. The current COVID-19

crisis exacerbated pre-existing weaknesses and inflicted devastating health and economic costs. However, it also created a once-in-a-generation chance for transformational health-system change.

COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing distortions and exposed underlying system weaknesses. It has also highlighted the important role PHC must play during a health emergency through measures such as surveillance, testing and contact tracing, and in keeping hospitals from overfl owing with critically ill patients. Strong PHC systems are also key to the efficient delivery of crucial health services, including vaccinations. 

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World Bank Financing for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Exceeds $4 Billion for 50 Countries

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2021 – The World Bank announced today that it is providing over $4 billion for the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines for 51 developing countries, half of which are in Africa. More than half of the financing comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries, and is on grant or highly concessional terms. This financing is part of the Bank’s commitment to help low- and middle-income countries acquire and distribute vaccines and strengthen their health systems.

The World Bank reiterated its call to governments, pharmaceutical companies, and organizations involved in vaccine procurement and delivery to help increase transparency and build greater public information regarding vaccine contracts, options and agreements; vaccine financing and delivery agreements; and doses delivered and future delivery plans. It asked those countries anticipating excess vaccine supplies in the coming months to release their surplus doses and options as soon as possible, in a transparent manner, to developing countries with adequate distribution plans in place.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has approved more than $150 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic. Since April 2020, the Bank has scaled up its financing by over 50 percent, helping more than 100 countries meet emergency health needs, strengthen pandemic preparedness, while also supporting countries as they protect the poor and jobs, and jump starting a climate-friendly recovery.

The World Bank is helping developing countries in every region of the world with vaccine purchase and rollout,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations. “Significant challenges still remain regarding vaccine deployment and hesitancy. We are taking action on all fronts to tackle these challenges, working in solidarity with international and regional partners to expedite doses to as many people as possible and to enhance disease surveillance, preparedness, and response.”

Full details of World Bank vaccine operations are posted on our vaccine operations portal, with regular updates. The $4 billion is supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Comoros, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, the Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, São Tomé e Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, Yemen, and Zambia.

The Bank’s vaccine finance package is designed to be flexible. It can be used by countries to acquire doses through COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) or other sources. It also finances vaccine deployment and health system strengthening, such as vaccine cold-chains, training health workers, data and information systems, and communications and outreach campaigns to key stakeholders which are crucial to ensure vaccination acceptance. The Bank has aligned its eligibility criteria for COVID-19 vaccines with the revised eligibility criteria of COVAX and other multilateral partners.

The World Bank is partnering with the African Union and the World Bank-supported Africa Center for Disease Control to support AVATT initiative with resources to allow countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa. The Bank is also convening a task force with the IMF, WHO, WTO, and other partners to track, coordinate, and advance delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

The Bank continues to work with governments and partners (UNICEF, the Global Fund, WHO, and GAVI) to assess the readiness of over 140 developing countries to deploy vaccines. Countries have made good progress since the publication of the effort’s first report. Latest findings show that 95 percent of countries have developed national vaccination plans, 79 percent have safety measures in place, and 82 percent have prioritizations of populations to receive the vaccine. However, only 59 percent have developed plans to train the large number of vaccinators needed and less than half have a plan in place to generate public confidence, trust, and demand for COVID-19 vaccines.

 

PRESS RELEASE NO: 2021/186/HNP