In the mid-1990s, donors recognized that government officials working in the health sector on issues like sustainable financing, improving service provider performance, and evidence-based reform lacked the training and support systems needed to achieve their goals. The donors asked that the World Bank Institute create learning programs for low- and middle-income countries struggling with health sector reform.
WBI consulted with World Bank experts, government officials, and an external advisory group that included leading training institutions like Harvard University, York University, and Bitran y Asociados, and sought to create a curriculum that was useful, concrete, adaptable, and that supported the Bank's lending programs.
Courses have been designed and delivered for country-specific contexts and in a wide range of languages...
The result of this consultation was a "global core course" offered annually in Washington, D.C. Within a year, the program had expanded to include partnerships with six regional institutions to adapt and translate course material for audiences around the world. The regional institutions recruited participants and local experts, prepared case studies, and delivered programs that addressed the specific regional, national, and local challenges faced by their participants. The American University of Beirut has delivered or collaborated on 12 regional and 14 national courses for over 1,000 leading health professionals from the Middle East and North Africa. Courses have been designed and delivered for country-specific contexts and in a wide range of languages, including Farsi. Participants hail from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Turkey, and many other nations.
The value of the program is evident from the increasingly high enrollment in trainings and the feedback from participants and institutions. More than 80 percent of alumni report that the course is directly relevant to their work. In India, one participant used the skills learned in the training to pursue policy changes that created incentives for excellent performance by service providers. In China, collaboration with the flagship program has helped raise membership in the China Health Economic Network from an original seven institutions to 27 today.
WBI is looking ahead, collaborating with the Bank's Health, Nutrition, and Population team and external partners to update the program with case studies and cutting edge technical tools, and creating an Asian network of institutions to promote knowledge exchange between countries in the global south and design and deliver locally focused learning activities.
As clients demand more learning on the "how-to" of health reform, Maria-Luisa Escobar, Lead Economist and Health Program Leader in WBI, is reflecting on the program's achievements and goals. "Results show that the strategy has paid off," she said. "Now it's time to reflect on how it can be sustained and improved to continue addressing client needs in an ever changing global environment."