This article analyzes the World Bank's lending activity on pharmaceuticals and medical products (PMP) during the fiscal years (FY) 1999-2001 by regions, borrower and supplier country, and procurement method. Data for the study derived from the World Bank Project and the Business Warehouse databases. The information included all Bank projects approved during the study period. Information for the PMP procurement contracts was extracted for the health sector components of all sector projects awarded. Contract dollar amount was aggregated by borrower and supplier countries. A total of 365 contracts of PMP for a value of US$ 364.5 million (2001 prices) were awarded. International competitive bidding was the most common procurement method used representing 46.0% of the total PMP contracts amount. Domestic providers supplied 52.5% of the PMP contracts managed by the borrower countries. Twenty-two countries accounted for 97.0% of the total PMP purchased during the period of analysis. Only a small fraction of the Bank activity was directed to the pharmaceutical sector. There is a need for more involvement of the World Bank to increase accessibility, affordability and rational use of pharmaceuticals and medical products. An evaluation of the different procurement methods and their implications on drug quality and prices should be performed.
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