Thu | Feb 23, 2017

Kim wants financial instrument for Ebola-like crises

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group

McPherse Thompson, Assistant Editor - Business

WASHINGTON, DC:In the wake of an "inadequate and slow" global response to the Ebola outbreak, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on Friday called for the creation of a new pandemic emergency facility to respond to future outbreaks by delivering money to countries in crisis.

Kim said he would like to develop the proposal for a financial instrument with the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and regional development banks.

Even as the focus should now be intensely on doing everything possible to stop Ebola, planning must also begin for the next pandemic, which "could spread much more quickly, kill even more people and potentially devastate the global economy," Kim said.

"The world has an IMF to co-ordinate and work with central banks and ministries to respond to financial crises," said the World Bank chief.

"When it comes to health emergencies, however, our institutional toolbox is empty. There's no such centre of knowledge and skill for response and coordination."

He said the bank's financial teams have proposed several solutions, including the pandemic emergency facility.

"The device would pre-package a response, establishing contingent funding agreements with donors and receipt mechanisms for possible recipients," said Kim, speaking before the IMF and World Bank annual meeting's plenary.

"So when a global health emergency is declared, financial support would be readily available and flow quickly to support an immediate response," he added.

Kim said the World Bank's work on Ebola, including the innovative use of crisis funding to disburse US$105 million over nine days in emergency funding, had been informed by its focus over the past two years on climate change.

He told delegates the World Bank was fully engaged in fighting the global threats posed by both Ebola and climate change.

The president added that the actions exemplify that the Bank wants to become "an indispensable partner for both low and middle-income countries in their efforts to solve their most difficult challenges".

Kim suggested that time was running out to find solutions to both the threats posed by climate change and Ebola.

"Also, until very recently, the plans to fight them were either non-existent or inadequate. And inaction is literally killing people. One, because of the rapid spread of a deadly virus, the other from the poisoning of the atmosphere and the oceans. And finally, perhaps most critically from our point of view, resolving these problems is essential to development, whether from the perspective of human suffering, economic growth, or public health," Kim said.

He lauded the work of the Bank's staff in their push to tackle the infrastructure deficit now faced by the developing world, as well as in Ebola and climate change, saying that the teams had worked collaboratively and displayed an inspiring commitment to innovation.

"We must maintain this commitment because increasing global fragility and volatility will challenge us more and more every day," he said.

"In our march to end extreme poverty, conflict, typhoons, floods, droughts, financial shocks and epidemics may, at times, slow us. But they will not stop us. The Bank will be aggressive and creative and apply large-scale solutions to help states manage, prepare for, recover from and conquer these risks, so they can grow and flourish," Kim said.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com