ADB's Work in Health
ADB has long recognised the crucial link between health, development, and economic growth. The bank’s priority work in the health sector seeks to improve health infrastructure and systems, governance, workforce, and financing.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the region hard. ADB has committed more than $20 billion in assistance to its DMCs in response to the economic, social, and health costs of the pandemic. In 2020 ADB launched a $9 billion Asia Pacific vaccine facility to ensure the region gets access to affordable vaccines against COVID-19.
The pandemic exposed critical shortcomings within ADB’s Developing Member Countries (DMCs) related to public health, primary care, and secondary care systems, and strongly suggested the need to strengthen regional cooperation in disease surveillance and control. In order to foster a strong, resilient recovery, and to prevent the risk of future pandemics, governments and their partners will need to sustain higher and more targeted spending in the health sector.
ADB’s Health Priorities
More broadly, ADB is working with governments in the pursuit of universal health coverage in the region, which involves prevention and containment of both communicable and noncommunicable diseases. This includes supporting research for rapid and effective diagnosis and treatment. ADB also supports projects and initiatives that help health services become more efficient, accessible, and equitable. Effective public-private partnerships are an important part of this process. Projects that promote wellbeing across the lifecycle (prioritizing mothers, children and the elderly) are a key focus for the bank, given the major social and economic returns.
Health is a human right and is essential to development. Good health improves learning, worker productivity and income, contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asia Pacific region was broadly making progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 that aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages”.
Challenges and Opportunities
There are emerging and intensifying challenges as well as opportunities for strategic action in the health sector for the region and DMCs need to respond to these across many sectors. These challenges and opportunities derive from: demographic transition; aging; continuing rapid urbanization; decentralization; and the ongoing digitalization of society.
Increasingly important will be governments and the private sector working together in service provision, research, and development, and in manufacturing critical products. In addressing these priorities, governments must focus the use of public resources to improve the availability, quality, an affordability of healthcare for vulnerable groups in society. The objective is to ensure no one is impoverished through financing medical care.
The accumulating pressure of climate change and shifts in lifestyles and age demographics in societies in Asia and the Pacific mean that shifts in the future burdens of communicable, vector-borne and noncommunicable diseases will be uncertain, with some economies facing more or less of each. As such, ADB will support the Asia Pacific's health systems to become more resilient, adaptive, and efficient, with necessary investments in preventive and promotive care upfront, in order to avoid more expensive interventions in later years.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus): ADB's Response
ADB is supporting its developing members in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through finance, knowledge, and partnerships.
Strategy 2030 sets seven operational priorities, each having its own operational plan. The operational plans contribute to ADB’s vision to achieve prosperity, inclusion, resilience, and sustainability, and are closely aligned with Strategy 2030 principles and approaches.