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World Bank group launches Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility

Published:Saturday | May 21, 2016 | 5:37 AM
“Pandemics pose some of the biggest threats in the world to people’s lives and to economies, and for the first time we will have a system that can move funding and teams of experts to the sites of outbreaks before they spin out of control,” said Jim Yong Kim.

SENDAI, Japan:
The World Bank Group has launched the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, a fast-disbursing global financing mechanism designed to protect the world against deadly pandemics, which will create the first-ever insurance market for pandemic risk.

Japan, which holds the G7 presidency, committed the first US$50 million in funding toward the new initiative.

“Pandemics pose some of the biggest threats in the world to people’s lives and to economies, and for the first time we will have a system that can move funding and teams of experts to the sites of outbreaks before they spin out of control,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

“This facility addresses a long, collective failure in dealing with pandemics. The Ebola crisis in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone taught all of us that we must be much more vigilant to outbreaks and respond immediately to save lives and also to protect economic growth.”

The announcement came a week ahead of the May 26-27 Summit of Group of Seven Leaders in Ise-Shima, Japan.

G7 leaders had urged the World Bank Group to develop the initiative during their May 2015 summit in Schloss-Elmau, Germany.

The World Bank Group estimates that if the financing facility had existed in mid-2014 as the Ebola outbreak was spreading rapidly in West Africa, it could have mobilized an initial US$100 million as early as July to severely limit the spread and severity of the epidemic.

Instead, money at that scale did not begin to flow until three months later.

During that three-month period, the number of Ebola cases increased tenfold.

The Ebola epidemic has claimed more than 11,300 lives and cost at least US$10 billion to date.

International assistance has totaled more than US$7 billion for Ebola response and recovery.