Development Banks Not Fulfilling Pledges To Support Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS Projects in Developing Countries, Report Says
Multilateral development banks are not fulfilling their commitments to support initiatives involving reproductive and sexual health in developing countries, according to a new study released by Gender Action, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that monitors the banks' policies on women and gender equality, Inter Press Service reports. The 90-page report examines the quantity and quality of all spending for reproductive health and HIV/AIDS projects from 2003 to 2006 by the World Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. The report also looks at the effect of the International Monetary Fund's fiscal and monetary policies.
According to the report, there was a "profound decline" in World Bank spending on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS projects from $2.7 billion in 2003 to $1.5 billion in 2006. The World Bank approved a total of $7.5 billion for such projects during the four-year period. World Bank officials could not be reached for comment, according to Inter Press Service.
The report also said that the regional development banks' programs focus almost solely on demographic issues and maternal health rather than on reproductive and sexual health and rights; do not include gender rights components; and fail to describe actionable solutions, according to Inter Press Service. "Compounding [the] lack of gender sensitivity in MDB projects is their unsustainability caused by endemic MDB project shortcomings, including short-term project duration and lack of funding for recurrent expenditures such as salaries for doctors and nurses," the report said.
According to the report, the Tunisia-based African Development Bank from 2003 to 2006 gave $108 million for reproductive health projects and $44 million for HIV/AIDS projects and related components. The Manila, Philippines-based Asian Development Bank during the same period gave $47.4 million for reproductive health and HIV/AIDS projects, with most of the funds spent on HIV/AIDS grants. The Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Development Bank, which lends to Latin nations, gave $3 million in loans and grants for reproductive health and HIV/AIDS during the time period, according to the report.
The report also said IMF loan packages and economic policies force most borrowing governments to restrict public sector wages and cut the number of doctors and nurses as part of its effort to reduce inflation and public spending, the Inter Press Service reports. "For these reasons, MDB project descriptions that promise to sustainability increase access to reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and other services are misleading," the report concluded (Mekay, Inter Press Service, 7/9).
The report is available online. Note: You need Adobe Acrobat to view this report.