How has the World Bank denied Africa's Right to Health?
- Forced cut-backs in spending on health care Over the past two decades, as part of structural adjustment, the World Bank has forced African governments to reduce government spending on health care. This has resulted in the closure of hundreds of hospitals and clinics, and has left the remaining medical facilities under-staffed and lacking in essential supplies. Under the tutelage of the World Bank and IMF, in the 42 poorest countries in Africa, spending on health care fell by 50% during the 1980s.
- Privatization of health care services, and introduction of "user fees" The World Bank has forced African governments to privatize government-held services such as health care, and to introduce "user fees" for receiving basic care. This has created a two-tier system, and has denied access to health care to the poor, who cannot afford to pay these fees.
- Demanding debt repayments take precedence over health Across Africa, governments are forced to spend more money on debt repayments to the World Bank and rich country governments each year than they do on health care for their own populations. The current debt relief framework has not changed this fact, and Africa's AIDS crisis continues to escalate.
- Intensification of poverty and underdevelopment
The World Bank's structural adjustment programs have not fostered
economic growth and development in Africa, but have instead
exacerbated conditions of poverty, food insecurity, and ill-health.
There has been an increase in the spread of poverty-related diseases
such as tuberculosis, and malnutrition has led to weakened immune
systems, particularly among children. Since the 1980s, the
devastating spread of HIV/AIDS has been facilitated by widespread
poverty and the lack of access to health care facilities. More than
17 million Africans have died of AIDS, and more than 25 million are
currently infected with HIV.
Africa Action's Position: