Global leaders are preparing for the next pandemic with commitments to a proposed new fund for prevention and response
- The COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities in access to healthcare around the world and depleted focus on other health needs.
- The second Global COVID-19 Summit last week focused on the situation today and a fund by the
World Bankto mitigate a future crisis.
Speakers at the second Global COVID-19 Summit said it: The current crisis isn't over. But getting ready for the next pandemic is essential, even as countries continue on the
The virtual summit, which was held last week and co-hosted by the US, Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, secured financial commitments from some of the participating countries for a new proposed health fund that would be housed at the World Bank, intended to underwrite a speedy response to a future pandemic. It emerged as the result of a task force imitated by the G20 in October 2021.
"The new Financial Intermediary Fund, or FIF, for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response at the World Bank will complement our financing and technical advice — core instruments that strengthen health systems and preparedness," said David Malpass, president of World Bank Group, at the summit.
"The FIF is an important part of the solution to build country, regional, and global capacity," he added. "It will bring additional, dedicated resources, incentivize countries to increase investments, and enhance coordination among partners."
Malpass said the Bank hopes to finalize the fund by June and launch it later this year. "We are determined to do all we can to help countries vaccinate their populations, particularly the most vulnerable, working with international partners and with countries in the lead."
Supporters of the fund say the structure could help mitigate the inequities that have been a feature of COVID, where richer countries have had access to more testing, vaccines, and care.
"We have all learned in the last couple of years that countries will take care of themselves if they're able to," said Heather Ignateus, managing director, advocacy and public policy at PATH, a nonprofit focused on
Ignateus says that work on this idea started back during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and that the key feature of the fund is to ensure that dedicated resources are available from day one of the next pandemics. Moreover, it will direct funding to build out infrastructure where it is currently lacking, which is essential to effectively manage an outbreak.
Some $712 million toward the FIF were promised during the summit, including $200 million from the US, adding to a previous $250 million that had already been pledged. President Joe Biden's 2023 budget also requests an additional $4.75 billion for the fund. Other countries also pledged funds, including Germany, with EUR 50 million, and $450 million from the European Union.
Balancing pandemic readiness with the 'aftershocks' of COVID
Good health and wellbeing are Goal 3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with the target of ensuring healthy lives and wellbeing for all people by 2030.
COVID has "halted or reversed" progress toward global health goals and exacerbated inequities in healthcare, according to the latest UN SDG report, including reproductive care and mental health.
In the wake of another pandemic, the FIF is meant to supply the needed funding so that resources used to fight other diseases aren't depleted. But the World Health Organization says that even COVID-related programs, like the Access to COVID Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was set up in 2020, needs additional funding.
"The FIF is being established at a moment when core global public health goods are seriously underfunded-in particular, the [ACT Accelerator], which plays a central role in addressing the current gross inequity in access to Covid testing, treatments, and vaccine between high-income countries and LMICs." read the WHO statement. "It is critical that the FIF does not undermine financing for existing urgent public health needs."
The One Campaign, which is focused on reducing poverty and preventable diseases, praised EU investment in the FIF fund, while maintaining that COVID is not the only problem that needs to be addressed.
"[FIF investment] must be complemented with leadership to tackle the aftershocks of this pandemic — such as setbacks in AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria," said Emily Wigens, EU director at the
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