Excessive healthcare in India trend can actually harm patients. WB

Excessive healthcare is emerging as a serious issue in India, the World Bank warned today, saying people with private health insurance are two to three times more likely to be hospitalised than the national average.

Many of these medical interventions deliver only marginal benefits and can actually harm the patients, leading to unnecessary suffering, especially among the frail and elderly, it said.

The harmful practice can worsen as, it said, many more people will be able to afford healthcare as the government ramps up medical coverage for poor households.

“Medical overuse is emerging as a serious issue in India, especially as more people can afford to pay for medical interventions due to increasing access to insurance cover.

Therefore, India urgently needs to learn from the experience of other countries and build in checks against this hazard, especially as it allocates a growing share of scarce public resources for medical insurance,” it said.

The World Bank’s warning comes amid concern expressed by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan over “corruption” in regulatory body Medical Council of India and the “nexus” of doctors and diagnostic centres, resulting in patients being asked for unnecessary tests.

“This is a critical time for India since the country is in the midst of building a healthcare system which will set conditions for decades to follow,” said Somil Nagpal, senior health specialist with the World Bank in India.

Prescribing unnecessary medical tests, procedures, hospitalisations and surgeries have become an epidemic worldwide, the World Bank said, adding the rates of caesarian sections, for instance, vary widely.

While globally the C-section rate in public hospitals is 10 percent, it reaches an alarming 98 percent in Brazil’s private hospitals, and 40 percent in private hospitals worldwide.

In the US alone, unnecessary medical care costs $250-300 billion annually by conservative estimates, it said, cautioning against the growing danger of the worldwide overuse of antibiotics that is causing a surge in hard-to-treat bugs.

The World Bank has identified the culture of “more medical intervention is better”, “slavish” use of medical technology even when it is not necessary and defensive medicine or “playing it safe” by prescribing additional tests or treatment among the leading factors behind the trend.

Is the World Bank Losing Asia?

By Mohamed A. El-Erian

Asia wants a new specialized bank to fill the gaps left by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. In contrast to its last effort to create a supranational monetary institution back in the 1990s, it might actually succeed.

Asian countries have long felt underserved and misunderstood by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, initially set up after World War II to, respectively, fund development projects and help governments manage temporary financial difficulties. In the midst of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, they sought to establish an Asian monetary fund designed to respond better to the needs of the region. Amid considerable international opposition, notably from the U.S., they ended up with a collection of less ambitious financial arrangements, such as a multilateral currency swap mechanism known as the Chiang Mai Initiative.

There were good and bad reasons for the opposition. The U.S., and to a lesser extent Europe, felt that an Asian monetary fund would undermine global cross-border coordination and would be too vulnerable to the kind of political pressures that arise in crisis situations. China, for its part, seemed rather noncommittal.

The U.S. and Europe also wanted to maintain the power that their historical domination of the IMF and the World Bank afforded. So they preferred to promise Japan and other Asian nations reforms to the existing institutions, as a means of forestalling the creation of a new one over which they would exercise limited direct control. The reforms, though, haven’t been deep enough to satisfy Asia’s needs, and confidence in the process has been undermined further by the U.S. Congress’s failure to pass what everyone admits is only a modest set of changes in representation and voice.

Read full article on Bloomberg View

World Bank Sees Promise in Armenian IT

Armenia’s IT sector has great potential for growth due to the high level of creativity shown by Armenian developers, senior World Bank analyst Sandra Sargent said on Monday.

According to a World Bank report, information and high technology is the most rapidly developing branch of Armenia’s economy. Since 2006, the sector (excluding Internet providers) recorded an average annual growth rate of 22 percent and its total output reached $294 million in 2013.

The total number of companies in IT and high-tech reached 380 with employees totaling 8,000 people. About 13% of these companies deal with high technology.

Sargent said IT specialists are demanded all over the world, but there is an acute demand for them in Armenia because of the small size of the country and the equally small labor market.

The only solution is increasing the number of IT specialists in Armenia. The World Bank hopes to facilitate ties between the educational system and the private IT sector, the Sandra Sargent said.

World Economies’ Ranking According to WB

Egypt, Pakistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Laos are economies with the lowest prices according to a review of economic data which seeks to measure spending power across countries and compensate for exchange rate effects

The United States, the world’s largest economy finds itself in the 25th place,which is relatively lower than most other high-income countries.

The countries with the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita on a purchasing power parity basis, were Qatar, Macao, Luxembourg, Kuwait, and Brunei.

Eight countries, including Malawi, Mozambique and Liberia, had GDP per capita of less than $1,000.

In this review World bank used slightly different methodology and country mix compared to the previous exercise back in 2005, middle-income countries received a bigger share of the global economy, at the expense of both low- and high- income peers.

Source: Reuters/Chicago Tribune 7:11 p.m. CDTApril 29, 2014 (Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Jonathan Oatis).

Read the whole article here.

Global Economy Improvement Analysis. Knock on Wood

Global Economy Continues To Improve (Associated Press)

The world’s top finance officials say the global economy is recovering, and they’re hopeful that well-run economic programs will avoid the risks that threaten that rebound. The 188-nation International Monetary Fund concluded talks Saturday with pledges to work toward faster growth that will alleviate still-high unemployment. Managing Director Christine Lagarde told reporters that the world had gone through a lengthy economic “disaster” and now was moving through a period of strengthening growth.

Finance Ministers: Economy Stronger but Fragile (ABC News)

The world’s top financial officials say they believe the global economy is strengthening but that growth remains fragile and open to risks of new geopolitical strife, as in Ukraine.

Rich countries have been helping power the recovery led by the United States and Britain, and the eurozone and Japan are doing better. However, there has been some slowing in major emerging markets such as China even though these economies have been powering along at growth rates ahead of developed nations. Many countries still are experiencing painfully high unemployment rates with millions looking for work.

The conclusion of discussions Saturday at the International Monetary Fund and its sister institution the World Bank ended three days of talks that began with meetings by finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations, the mix of traditional economic powers such as the United States, Japan and Germany and emerging economies such as Brazil, India and China. “Creating a more dynamic, sustainable and job-rich global economy remains our paramount collective goal,” the policy-setting panel of the 188-nation IMF said in a closing communique. Read full article.

Raising World Economy’s Speed Limit Emerges as Challenge (Bloomberg News)

Global finance chiefs are trying to soup up their crisis-hit economic engines.

How to do so was a theme of weekend talks of the International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings in Washington as economists from JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimate the financial crisis and subsequent world recession knocked the potential growth rate of rich countries down to about 1.5 percent from 2 percent.

Such a decline in the speed limit of the growth rate at which inflation ignites is troubling because it risks pressuring central banks to raise interest rates sooner than they might otherwise want. The weaker potential also hurts the ability of businesses to boost profits, workers to win pay increases and governments to cut debts. Read full article.

 image from www.fas.org