HSS is a new program anchored in the World Bank Africa Region HNP Unit and funded by the World Bank, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), and the governments of the United Kingdom and Norway. The program rose from the realization that the Millennium Development Goals in Health in Africa are unlikely to be achieved if the underlying health systems designed to deliver services to the poor remain weak and underdeveloped. HSS functions as one team in three locations -- Washington, Dakar and Nairobi -- designed to provide technical and analytical support and expertise on health systems strengthening areas such as Human Resources for Health, Pharmaceuticals, Financing, Governance and Service Delivery and Infrastructure and ICT. HSS is part of the World Bank's "Health Systems for Outcomes" (HSO) strategic agenda of the Africa Region.
Despite impressive advances, Africa experiences a high burden of infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis , and neglected tropical diseases such as onchocerciasis. In addition, the burden of non-communicable diseases is increasing to disproportionately affect people in their productive years. Controlling these diseases is crucial for Africa not only to achieve health outcomes and reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but also because of the economic toll they take on the continent. Disease control is an essential element of the Health Systems for Outcomes (HSO) agenda, and in this context the World Bank’s Africa Region has established the Disease Control Program (DCP) to foster coordination and collaboration across diseases and facilitate synergies with health systems. By capitalizing on these synergies, the Bank is able to provide comprehensive support to African countries to better serve their needs by strengthening health systems and controlling disease, to achieve significant and sustainable gains in population health. The DCP mission is to provide strategic and technical support and guidance to Bank operations, engage in influential knowledge and promote strategic partnerships to ensure that the HSO program delivers on results tied to specific diseases.
Africa has the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Child mortality reductions have stalled in many countries, while malnutrition is associated with over a third of child mortality. In addition, rapid population growth exacerbates the economic and social challenges the continent has to face. Addressing these issues is central to the Bank’s strategy to support country efforts to reduce poverty and achieve the MDGs. In the context of strengthening health systems, the Bank is currently developing a new Strategic Action Plan for Population and Reproductive Health. It also supports nutrition programs in several countries, as well as contributions to the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), the control of Neglected Tropical Diseases and the partnership with the World Food Program on School Health and School Feeding.