Build Back Better World Initiative
Congress has been negotiating the size and scope of a domestic infrastructure bill for most of Joe Biden’s presidency. Still, action is necessary to further infrastructure abroad. The U.S. and its allies in the G7 recognize this need and have launched the Build Back Better World Initiative (B3W) to address global infrastructure challenges. A closer look at the initiative provides insight into the state of infrastructure in low and middle-income countries around the world.

The Infrastructure Gap

Infrastructure connects people and goods, which allows economies to scale and grow. Forming highways, ports, bridges, railways, pipelines, sewage systems and more, infrastructure projects are vital for transport, communication, energy and health. Infrastructure projects are the foundation of economic development and are vital to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including universal access to water and electricity. 

Infrastructure projects are also important for developing nations because the projects can be a major source of employment, spurring economic growth and allowing workers to gain new skills. The White House currently estimates that the infrastructure needed in low and middle-income countries globally totals more than $40 trillion.

Infrastructure gaps are significant because the gaps hinder economic growth. According to World Bank research, “Every 10% increase in infrastructure provision increases [economic] output by approximately 1% in the long term.” In other words, spending on infrastructure grows an economy. Further, as environmental challenges continue to threaten nations around the world, the World Bank says that even small investments in climate-resilient infrastructure can save trillions of dollars in recovery efforts.

The Build Back Better World Initiative

Partnering with G7 nations, the U.S. launched the B3W to alleviate some of the problems associated with infrastructure gaps. The White House will look toward not only its allies but the private sector for hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for infrastructure investment. The administration says that it will leverage partnerships with the private sector because “status quo funding and financing approaches are inadequate” to meet the size of these challenges. 

The focus for projects is four distinct areas, including climate, health, digital technology and gender equity. The aim is to reach all around the world with different partners, but, USAID and other U.S. development groups will take leading roles. However, there is still an understanding that local needs will be a priority, as “infrastructure that is developed in partnership with those whom it benefits will last longer and generate more development impact.” 

The Biden administration has stressed the importance of good governance in foreign assistance and has already noted the importance of using B3W as a way to encourage full transparency with monitoring tools, common contracts and metrics for evaluation.

The Build Back Better World Initiative and US Interest

Foreign assistance supports U.S. strategic interests, which is why Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh has indicated support for the initiative. In recent years, especially when the U.S. has taken a step back from foreign affairs, China has accelerated spending on global infrastructure with the Belt and Road Initiative. 

However, Singh indicates that the point of the initiative is not to inflame hostilities or work as an anti-China group but rather to provide an alternative to Belt and Road financing. The goal is to “rally countries around a positive agenda that projects our shared values.” B3W supports U.S. interests by providing an alternative and showing that the U.S. is once again ready and willing to be a good partner for the world.

With Congress working on a domestic infrastructure package, it is important to not lose sight of the critical need for sustained and significant investment in infrastructure around the world. Infrastructure projects connect the world, making it safer and healthier. Funding infrastructure around the world as part of the Build Back Better World Initiative aligns with U.S. strategic interests. Hopefully, this initiative will encourage bridging gaps and becoming a more connected world.

– Alex Muckenfuss
Photo: Flickr

The Armenia Fund
The Armenia Fund was established shortly after the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1994 following Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The conflict had left the newly independent nation in shambles and needing assistance. The NGO based out of Los Angeles sought to alleviate the lasting repercussions of the recent conflict. Its primary focus was to connect the large Armenian diaspora population to its homeland in order to further develop Armenia. With an Armenian population of roughly three million, the estimated seven million Armenians living in other countries around the world are crucial to assembling an improved Armenia. With this goal in mind, the Armenia Fund plays a vital role in extending support to Armenia.

Armenia Fund Supporters

During the recent reoccurrence of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020, the Armenia Fund provided $80 million in immediate relief to the Armenian people. The imminent need for access to food, medical supplies and clean water was widespread as the war had lasting effects on the country. Many donations were influenced by the awareness raised from Kim Kardashian’s $1 million pledge to the Armenia Fund, along with the support from several other celebrities. Kim Kardashian is Armenian through her late father, Robert Kardashian. She advertised the efforts of the Armenia Fund and invited her fans to sponsor the nonprofit. Other prominent contributors consist of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, the Armenian Assembly of America, Inc. and The Manoogian Simone Foundation.

Armenia Fund Projects

Projects initiated by the Armenia Fund include rebuilding schools and churches in the nation. The NGO strives to supply resources to as many Armenians as possible while rendering aid to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A recently completed project is the reconstruction of the Talish village. In restoring the once destroyed village, the Armenia Fund revived the historic and ancient town. Several other villages and buildings destroyed or affected by past war conflicts are primary areas the fund intends to repair.

US Assistance to Armenia

In addition to the Armenia Fund, the U.S. has long provided Armenia with support. The U.S. Embassy highlighted that the U.S. has given $2 billion in assistance funding to Armenia since 1992, aiming to develop Armenia’s democracy and sustain its economy. A 1998 foreign aid bill provided more than $45 million straight to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. At the time, the U.S. was the only country to grant such a relief package. More recent assistance includes the Valadao Amendment in 2017 and the Cox Amendment in 2019, which offered direct aid from the U.S. to the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. The legislation provided more than $1 million in direct relief. The Speier Amendment in 2019 was another notable contribution, as it allocated $40 million to democracy programs.

Armenia has had no shortage of challenges in establishing its planned democracy and strengthening itself after gaining independence from the Soviet Union. The Armenia Fund, principally supported by Armenians living outside the country, has helped shape a better Armenia. The U.S. has also been crucial, helping Armenia’s progression through foreign aid. The Armenia Fund continues to serve as a meaningful surveyor to sustain Armenia’s flourishment. The nonprofit supports Armenia by reaching the large diaspora population and continuously fighting for a more stable Armenia. Rebuilding the country physically is an investment in the Armenian people.

James Van Bramer
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to Greece
The history of foreign aid to Greece dates back to the late 1940s and the Truman administration when the Marshall Plan underwent enactment. Although the Marshall Plan funding came to an end in 1951, the European nations collected almost $13 billion in aid. This money acquired shipments in fuel, food, machinery and more, creating investments in industrial capacity in Europe.

According to The George C. Marshall Foundation, between April 3, 1948, and June 30, 1952, the Marshall Plan provided grants to Greece in the amount of $706.7 million. Today, that would add over $69.7 million.

Council on Foreign Relations

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, in 1957, a common market-free area of trade emerged known as The Treaty of Rome. It led to the acceptance of Greece as the “10th member of the European Economic Community (EEC).”

The Council on Foreign Relations reported that in 1992, 12 member states of the ECC signed the Treaty of Maastricht forming the European Union (E.U.) and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). This led to the 1999 Euro currency in existence today.

However, as the Council on Foreign Relations reported, in 1999 Greece could not adopt the Euro currency because it could not meet the economic rules that the Maastricht established. All members must meet the fiscal criteria. This means inflation has to be, “below 1.5 percent, a budget deficit below 3 percent, and a debit-to-GDP ratio below 60 percent.”

How Geography Affects Foreign Aid

The need for foreign aid to Greece continues due to its geographic location. Greece is a destination for refugees and asylum seekers. According to The Library of Congress LAW, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the E.U. in 2011 found Greece was lacking in its ability to handle the influx of refugees. More reception centers are necessary to house them.

A plan proposal in 2010 led to more services for asylum seekers in Greece. Although the plan ultimately failed, some things underwent adoption such as Law 3907. It supplied more services such as appeals authority and first-line reception. In 2015, the influx of refugees overwhelmed Greece’s already inefficient system to fingerprint, register and house asylum seekers.

The humanitarian needs such as access to healthcare and education are great in reception centers for refugees. In 2016 the White House Press Secretary announced, “Since the start of Europe’s refugee crisis, the United States has contributed over $44 million in humanitarian aid through international organizations.”

Recent Actions

From 2014 to 2020, the Commission and European Union increased funding to Greece for asylum and immigration.

As a result, the Migration and Integration Fund provided Greece with €294.5 million (about $328 million). The Internal Security Fund – Borders and Visas presented €214.8 million (about $240 million). Another contribution under the European Refugee Fund was emergency funding of over €50.6 million Euros (about $56.5 million).

In 2019, the U.S. assisted Greece’s military when it signed a mutual defense cooperation agreement. The intention of this agreement is for the U.S. to spend on Greece’s military infrastructure.

The need to send foreign aid to Greece continues to grow especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Aljazeera reported, in September 2020, Greek authorities were still having trouble with overcrowding. It is still a struggle to house every migrant and refugee but with more funding, a change can hopefully occur.

– Kathleen Shepherd-Segura
Photo: Flickr

OPEC FundThe OPEC Fund for International Development fights against poverty by funding projects that improve poverty and spur development. On February 19, 2021, it continued this effort by sending a $50 million loan to Tanzania. The funding supports the Fourth Tanzania Poverty Reduction Project. The project intends to focus on boosting the economy through rural development. It will also improve access to social services for more than 900,000 people. Tanzania has certainly made progress in reducing poverty over the past decade, but around 26 million Tanzanians still live on less than $1.90 per day. The efforts of the OPEC Fund intend to address the issue of poverty in Tanzania.

The Goal

The fourth phase of the plan aims to build rural infrastructure for education, health, water, agriculture and transportation. By improving these conditions, employment opportunities will arise for those who are struggling. Additionally, this project will provide people with income opportunities such as growing vegetables and farming animals. The OPEC Fund Director-General Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa states that the organization has committed to improving poverty in Tanzania for years. He explains that the current loan will empower communities to help themselves by strengthening food resilience and household incomes as well as developing social amenities to encourage growth and development.

The Partnership

The partnership between the OPEC Fund and Tanzania has existed for 45 years. During the partnership, the OPEC Fund has given the country more than $370 million for the current project and 37 other public sector operations. The OPEC Fund most recently granted assistance toward transportation. Tanzania received $26 million for the Kazilambwa-Chagu Road Upgrading Project. The road built will connect two of the country’s main ports. Improving the accessibility of these ports will ultimately lead to an increase in both agricultural and tourism-related activities. Additionally, it will enable trade with neighboring countries, therefore spurring economic growth.

Plans for Development

The OPEC Fund’s mission is to stimulate economic growth in low to middle-income countries. The OPEC Fund provides financing to both member and non-member countries. Established by member countries in 1976, it sought to increase development and strengthen communities, all while empowering the people of the country. The OPEC Fund has approved more than $25 billion for 135 countries, showing many that development is possible for everyone. With help from the OPEC Fund, Tanzania has greatly reduced poverty levels over the past 10 years. As the OPEC Fund fights against poverty, the Tanzanian government is implementing programs to eradicate poverty and developmental issues. Exemplary programs include three previous phases of this project co-financed by the OPEC Fund.

Importance of Agriculture

Agriculture is the center of Tanzania’s economy, contributing around a quarter of GDP and employing three-fourths of the country. Increasing droughts and harvest losses, however, present a threat to food security and the agriculture sector. Tanzania’s GDP growth of 6–7% annually over the past decade stems largely from the agriculture sector. A majority of the agricultural success has come from improvements and progress in farming and harvesting.

Tanzania also struggles to expand modern energy access, with two-thirds of the population still without access to modern energy. Similarly, only 9% of Tanzania’s population has access to formal financial services and only 4% has ever received a loan from a bank, factors clearly stagnating economic growth and development in the country.

The assistance provided by the OPEC Fund alongside community members and the Tanzanian government has allowed Tanzania to make great strides toward eradicating poverty and improving developmental growth.

Jai Phillips
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Bangladesh
Healthcare in Bangladesh is not as sophisticated as in more developed countries; however, the country is working to improve and provide further funding to its healthcare system. So far Bangladesh has made great strides in increasing healthcare access for its people, but there is still a long way to go. Here are seven important facts about healthcare in Bangladesh.

7 Facts About Healthcare in Bangladesh

  1. Bangladesh has a pluralistic healthcare system. This healthcare system is highly decentralized. As a result, it is regulated and controlled by for-profit companies, NGOs, the national government and international welfare organizations. This shared power has caused many problems, including unequal treatment programs between social classes. Even though the laws and overall system are spearheaded and steered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, other organizations have considerable influence on the decision-making.
  2. There is a shortage of physicians, specialists and clinical equipment. In Bangladesh, the number of physicians per 10,000 people is only about 3.06, which is significantly low. The number of nurses per 10,000 people is even lower, standing at 1.07. Additionally, only 35% of health and clinical facilities in the country have more than 75% of sanctioned staff working and there is a 36% vacancy in sanctioned healthcare workers. There is also a 50% vacancy in alternative medicine providers. These numbers are one of the reasons that Bangladesh’s quality of healthcare is low compared to many other Asian countries.
  3. Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in Bangladesh. Most deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and malnutrition. There are almost no alcohol-related deaths due to alcohol consumption and sale being illegal in the country. A 2016 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that tobacco usage has decreased for both men and women, with only 23% of the population using tobacco products. Obesity has remained low, rising slightly, but still only affected 2% of adolescents and 3% of the adult population. However, poor nutrition is still prevalent, leading to diabetes and high blood pressure.
  4. Most physicians and healthcare workers are concentrated in urban areas. Rural areas often do not have proper healthcare facilities. To remedy this, the national government has set up many government-funded hospitals in rural areas that provide cheaper treatment for rural citizens. However, these hospitals are often poorly funded, understaffed and overly crowded due to a limited number of healthcare options in rural areas.
  5. Enrollment in medical colleges and healthcare training facilities has increased. This will benefit the country by increasing the number of healthcare workers in proportion to the population. However, this is only a recent trend and these future healthcare workers must complete their education and training before being able to fully practice their professions. The HPNSDP (Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Program) have already begun drafting and implementing a plan to further increase the number of nurses and midwives through training and education facilities.
  6. Socioeconomic inequality affects healthcare in Bangladesh. One area this can be seen in is infant mortality. The infant mortality rate for the lowest income quintile is 35 deaths per 1000 births, while infant mortality for the highest income quintile is only 14 deaths per 1000 births. One of the main reasons for this inequality is that most poor Bangladeshis live in rural areas that do not have adequate hospital facilities. However, even in urban areas, socioeconomic inequality has a large impact. A person with more money is generally able to receive better healthcare than someone who is poorer and cannot afford certain treatments or services. This is due to the fact that the healthcare system is decentralized and partially run by for-profit healthcare and pharmaceutical companies.
  7. Limited government funding has led to high out-of-pocket payments. One of the other reasons poorer citizens in Bangladesh cannot afford certain treatments or services is high out-of-pocket costs. On average, Bangladeshi citizens must pay 63.3% of the total cost, while the government pays the rest. This system creates a significant financial burden for impoverished families, sometimes forcing them to either forego treatment or go into debt. To reduce this burden, the government must increase healthcare funding.

These seven facts about healthcare in Bangladesh illustrate some of the barriers that Bangladesh must overcome to provide high-quality healthcare across the nation. The Bangladeshi Government’s constitution upholds that all citizens will be provided with equal treatment, including in healthcare. To achieve this, the government needs to address the current inequality and continue to make healthcare a focus of its efforts.

Sadat Tashin
Photo: Flickr

Engineers Against Poverty
Engineers Against Poverty mobilizes engineers around the globe to fight poverty through more effective, transparent and equitable infrastructure development. Founded with an engineering focus, the U.K.-based group has expanded its work to improve ways of life in low- and middle-income countries by advocating for ethical working conditions, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing poverty worldwide. As a massive infrastructure funding gap stands in the way of global poverty relief, Engineers Against Poverty works to empower a multi-sector network to improve infrastructure policy and practices.

Infrastructure and Global Poverty

Engineers and infrastructure development play a vital role in the fight against global poverty. According to the Asian Development Bank, poverty reduction requires not only well-governed economic development, but also improved infrastructure for irrigation, electricity, water and sanitation and other basic needs. In 2016, Our World in Data reported that 40% of the globe experienced water scarcity and 13% of the world did not have electricity. In 2015 and 2016, one-third of the global population did not have access to an all-weather road. Engineers Against Poverty explains that infrastructure will play a vital role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were released in 2015 to be achieved by 2030.

“For EAP, its goal is to scale up influence on global infrastructure policy and practice to promote sustainable social, climate and economic impacts that contribute toward the elimination of poverty,” Engineers Against Policy Senior Communications Manager Charlotte Broyd said.

The Infrastructure Funding Gap

One of the greatest barriers to global poverty reduction is a massive infrastructure funding gap. At the 2015 release of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the World Economic Forum reported the infrastructure funding gap would prove the biggest challenge to meet the SDGs. The World Economic Forum explained that there exists a $15 trillion investment gap between the money needed and the existing funding to reach “adequate global infrastructure by 2040.” This gap, Engineers Against Poverty explains, must be tackled as a “governance challenge.” Up to one-third of global investment in infrastructure is lost to mismanagement in governance, particularly in low-income countries.

Broyd commented, “There is a role for many stakeholders in addressing the infrastructure investment gap (governments, international organizations as well as donors). For donors specifically, they can help by recognising the importance of transparency and accountability in the infrastructure sector and the need for support to initiatives and others promoting these principles. This is particularly important in the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis where any economic loss must be minimized.”

The World Bank has identified collaboration between the private and public sectors as a key approach to closing the infrastructure funding gap. The former managing director of the World Bank explained at the release of the SDGs that to help mitigate these investment hazards, investors and donors must make more comprehensive investments in policy, insurance, regulation and more to make their investments effective.

Engineers Against Poverty’s Infrastructure Transparency Initiative

Engineers Against Poverty’s global Infrastructure Transparency Initiative (CoST) is key to closing this infrastructure funding gap. CoST, which currently works in 19 countries, encourages collaboration between civilians, engineers and policy-makers to work toward “improving transparency and accountability in public infrastructure” to reduce investment losses to mismanagement and corruption.

CoST has already seen success in many countries, including Thailand, where transparency, competitive bidding, decreasing contract prices and more efficient fund management have saved the country $360 million in infrastructure spending since 2015. In Afghanistan, CoST-prompted contract reviews saved the country $8.3 million in just one year for road-network maintenance.

The initiative focuses on increasing infrastructure project transparency by improving data disclosure, ensuring data is accessible to the public, creating social accountability for decision-makers and empowering civilians and communities to advocate for better infrastructure governance and delivery. By 2018, CoST had helped disclose data on around 11,000 projects through accessible platforms. CoST has also established legal mandates and disclosure commitments with governments in many countries.

“Our experience indicates that informed citizens and responsive public institutions help drive reforms that reduce mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption and the risks posed to the public from poor quality infrastructure,” the CoST website explains.

A key feature of CoST is citizen engagement and media attention, which enables civilians to hold their policy-makers accountable and make the infrastructure funding gap a priority for civil society. “CoST has enabled citizens to advocate for quality infrastructure through community events in several of its countries including Uganda, Ghana, Malawi and Thailand,” Broyd said. “Simply by raising the issues affecting them, citizens give the media powerful stories to report, which has generated much good publicity.”

CoST therefore illustrates the importance of involving citizens in solving poverty locally, nationally and globally. The combined efforts of engaged civilians and Engineers Against Poverty stand to make important headway in the fight against global poverty.

Emily Rahhal
Photo: Pixabay

Celebrities and Global Poverty
Many organizations focus on eradicating global poverty, which remains a persistent and important problem. Two-thirds of the world population lives on less than $10 per day, and one in 10 people live on less than $1.90 per day. One organization working to address this issue is the Global Poverty Project (GPP), which has partnered with other organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations to create a movement aiming to eradicate global poverty by 2030. The GPP’s initiatives have helped increase global poverty awareness, and many celebrities fighting global poverty have supported the cause. Here are some campaigns that the GPP has headed, along with some of the celebrities that have helped fund them.

The Global Citizen Festival

The Global Citizen Festival is the project’s annual event, which draws over 60,000 people in attendance and over 20 million people tuning in via livestream. It is a music festival that raises money and awareness of global poverty issues, with the ultimate goal of removing global poverty by 2030. Through the festival platform, patrons (or “Global Citizens”) are able to learn about the causes of global poverty, as well as the part that they can play in reducing it.

In 2012, the festival helped the GPP raise over $1.3 billion in pledges toward the fight against poverty, in conjunction with other charities. Music stars such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Shawn Mendes and Rihanna have all participated in Global Citizen concerts over the years, cementing their status as celebrities fighting global poverty.

Becoming a Global Citizen

Global Citizen is the GPP’s individual campaign movement that allows people to engage with both the organization and its embedded community. Through an app, Global Citizens are challenged to make small actions, commitments and announcements about global poverty, which add up to significant change in areas such as education and sanitation. These actions come in the form of contacting leaders and signing petitions. The Global Citizens site also helps to inform people about the leading issues in global poverty.

Global Citizens’ actions help to influence policy and political leaders. Participants have taken over 25.2 million actions through the app, committed $48.4 billion to fight poverty and impacted more than 880 million lives thus far. Music artists and bands such as Clean Bandit have also held concerts to promote awareness and increase monetary commitments to these issues.

In addition to musicians and artists who contribute to the GPP, famous actors have funded anti-poverty causes and become representatives for certain issues. Idris and Sabrina Elba have spearheaded campaigns to help African farmers, raising awareness about the harmful impacts of climate change. By supporting the Elbas’ cause and contacting world leaders, fans are able to help over 100 million rural farmers.

Other celebrities fighting global poverty who have supported GPP’s campaigns and contributed to fundraising include The Weeknd, Usher, Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson.

A Global Impact

Overall, the work of the GPP has impacted over 800 million lives across the world so far. By including celebrities fighting global poverty, the GPP has seen astonishing results, and the organization stands ready to help achieve the international goal of eradicating global poverty by 2030.

Kiana Powers
Photo: Wikimedia

Healthcare in Nimiba
Namibia aims to improve the accessibility and quality of its healthcare system. Namibia is an upper-middle-income country located in southern Africa. Unfortunately, as it became an upper-middle-income country, Namibia’s healthcare fell behind. The country must overcome obstacles to continue improving its healthcare system. These obstacles include a shortage of doctors, inadequate funding and income inequality. The country also faces HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis crises. Despite its economic progress, Namibia has the sixth highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. This article covers this nation’s efforts to ensure its citizens have access to quality healthcare.

Healthcare Structure

Namibia gained independence in 1990. In its early years, the government declared healthcare a human right and made systemic changes to its healthcare system. The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) formed. The MoHSS is responsible for implementing policy and delivering primary healthcare to Namibians.

Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world with about three people per square kilometer. According to The World Bank, 48.9% of Namibians live in rural communities. Therefore, providing access to healthcare is a significant challenge.

Namibia’s healthcare system consists of four distinct components: intermediate and referral hospitals, clinics, health centers and district hospitals. Each component has a unique role and specialized medical staff. For example, nurses staff clinics who provide basic care. People receive referrals to a health center or a district hospital for more serious cases. The most serious cases obtain treatment at intermediate and referral hospitals. Namibia houses “1150 outreach points, 309 health centers [and] 34 district hospitals.”

Namibia’s bed-to-population ratio is equivalent to that of higher-income countries including New Zeland and Norway. However, because of Namibia’s low population density, about 21% of Namibians live more than 10 km away from a health provider. The MoHSS partners with private organizations like USAID SHOPS to provide mobile health clinics. Mobile health clinics help reach rural communities in Namibia. They provide a range of services including immunizations, health education and HIV tests. Both the private and public sectors fund the mobile health network.

Funding Healthcare

In 2014, Namibia spent $200 million to prevent and treat HIV cases. Unfortunately, despite the work of the MoHSS, the leading cause of death is from non-communal diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In 2019, approximately 210,000 adults and children were living with HIV in Namibia; about 11.5% of these adults and children are between 14 and 49. Thankfully, Namibia is not alone in fighting against the virus; organizations including the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention help with technical assistance and workforce recruiting.

The Namibian government aims to spend 15% of its GDP on healthcare. However, Namibia only spent about 8.6% of GDP on healthcare in 2017. Funding from donors has been declining since Namibia’s reclassification in 2009. The decrease is because of Namibia’s reclassification as an upper-middle-income country. In 2008, donors made up 22% of the country’s healthcare funding. In 2017, donors funded 7% of Namibia’s healthcare expenditure.

A variety of other sources fund Namibia’s healthcare system: 19% from the private sector, 11% from households and 63% from the government. Namibia needs additional funding to improve its healthcare system, especially as its GDP growth slows. Additionally, healthcare costs will increase as the country’s population ages.

Healthcare Workforce

Another of Namibia’s largest healthcare problems is the lack of public doctors. There are more private doctors than public doctors in many regions of the country. In Hardap, 80% of the doctors work in the private sector. A shortage of public doctors increases the cost of healthcare. According to The World Bank, there are approximately 1,222 doctors; 784 doctors work in the public sector and 438 work in the private sector. Half of Namibia’s physicians work in Khomas, the region containing Namibia’s capital. In 2018, there were approximately 0.33 doctors for every 1,000 people.

Namibia is working to address the shortage of public doctors; the Namibian government is supporting medical students’ education, hoping doctors and nurses will enter the public sector. In 2019, Namibia sponsored about half of its medical students.

Many issues persist within the Namibian healthcare system. Fortunately, groups like the Namibian government and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention have dedicated themselves to improving healthcare in Namibia. Hopefully, by making investments like supporting medical students’ education, Namibia will improve its healthcare system.

Joshua Meribole
Photo: Unsplash