ADB is working across developing Asia to support improved health care provision for poverty reduction and improved human capital.

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.

An elderly person receives the Covishield COVID-19 vaccine dose at Korean Hospital in Nepal. Photo: Narendra Shretha/ADB

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.

ADB’s health priorities
Vaccination drive at a health center in Metro Manila, Philippines. Photo: Veejay Villafranca/ADB

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.

Challenges and opportunities
The health of mothers and children has improved, aided partly by an ADB project that has reduced newborn deaths in poor areas. Photo: Asanakunov Kanat Djaparovich/ADB

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.

Operational Priorities

Strategy 2030 - Achieving a Prosperous, Inclusive, Resilient, and Sustainable Asia and the Pacific

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.

Health Sector Directional Guide

Book cover: Strategy 2030 Health Sector Directional Guide

This Health Sector Directional Guide provides the strategic direction of the Asian Development Bank for the health sector.


Profile Photo: Patrick L. Osewe
Patrick L. Osewe

Director, Human and Social Development

Profile Photo: Ben Coghlan
Ben Coghlan

Senior Health Specialist (Health Security)

Profile Photo: Dinesh Arora
Dinesh Arora

Principal Health Specialist

Profile Photo: Vasoontara Yiengprugsawan
Vasoontara Yiengprugsawan

Senior Universal Health Coverage Specialist (Service Delivery)

Profile Photo: Rui Liu
Rui Liu

Health Specialist

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