Intended for healthcare professionals


The World Bank

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 27 March 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:822

Friend or foe to the poor?

  1. Robin Stott, Consultant physician and chair of Medact*
  1. Lewisham University Hospital, London SE13 6LH
  1. * An organisation of health professionals lobbying on global health issues

    Education and debate p 865

    Why should British and other western doctors be interested in the World Bank? This week's BMJ includes the first of Kamran Abbasi's articles on the World Bank (p 865),1 yet with health system reforms, performance reviews, racism in health, plummeting morale, and continued underfunding, haven't we got enough to occupy us? Yes, but what of the plight of the 1.3 billion people living in absolute poverty on less than $1 a day? Their health is as abysmal as their wealth, and until their poverty is relieved their health will not improve. The World Bank's mission statement is “to reduce poverty, and improve living standards by promoting sustainable growth and investment in people.”2 For health workers concerned with the pathology and relief of poverty, knowledge about the bank is as important as anatomy is to surgeons.

    Like the Christian churches in the nineteenth century, the bank has enormous influence in former colonies. It helps set, fund, and …

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