A world first in terms of a central body having the financial means and clout in providing desperately-needed financial resources and subsequent distribution structures in the immediate wake of a global pandemic has been announced. Instigated by the World Bank, the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility is, essentially, an insurance product aimed specifically at reacting to the unpredictable threats posed by the sudden outbreaks of pandemics, and will come into effect so as to help countries and health agencies tackle infection when and where needed at the time.
Launched at a G7 finance ministers meeting in Japan just recently, the concept and workable theory behind the unique provision is to make some $500 million pounds’ worth of funding available to arm the appropriate authorities and organisations with the financial wherewithal to try and quell the rampant spread of infectious diseases.
The recent outbreak of the subsequently devastating ebola virus in West Africa has again served to highlight the vital need to have crucial monetary resources on tap so that reactions (according to sizeable financial streams available then and there) can be implemented as rapidly as possible, as opposed to – and with experts referencing – the aforementioned ebola outbreak in 2014, which effectively saw the international community scrambling for what was, initially a seemingly lacklustre and ineffectual response to a grave situation unfolding.
Despite the spread being eventually curtailed and ultimately contained, this somewhat stalled public health achievement came at a high cost to human life, reports www.ft.com. Infecting 28,000 people and killing 11,000, the financial cost of bringing the deadly disease under control was estimated to be close to $7 billion, yet the timings of monies being released in cases such as this is at the heart of the World Bank-inspired matter as of now.
Saving Lives and Money Priority Concern for Pandemic Fund Launched by World Bank to Counter Increasing Global Risks
According to the World Bank, in excess of 5,000 people had already perished after being infected with ebola, before the first $100 million had been distributed in October 2014. The organisation’s man at the helm, the epidemiologist, Jim Yong Kim, told various news sources of late that; “We can’t change the speed of a hurricane or the magnitude of an earthquake, but we can change the trajectory of an outbreak.”
Kim went on to say that; “With enough money sent to the right place at the right time, we can save lives and protect economies.” The World Bank insists that had this newly-formed insurance pool been I existence at the time of the ebola outbreak then that initial $100 million might well have been released to where it was needed most a good 3 months prior to when it actually was; and by which juncture only 500 people had succumbed to the disease.
Overall costings have also been taken into consideration by the World Bank, with the Vice-president, Keith Hansen having since calculated that a sum of between $200 – 300 million would have been the total outlay had this scenario come into play; a figure representing approximately 4% of the final spend.
In terms of who would be responsible for pledging funds to the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility cause, Japan has already done its bit and set the ball rolling so to speak, courtesy of donating $50 million into the coffers. Elsewhere the global reinsurance sector is said to be raising around 50% of the $500 million earmarked as a ball-park figure required, whilst the World Bank-issued pandemic ‘cat’ (catastrophe) bonds will also be used.
In essence the fund is envisaged to pay-out monies to affected countries and the health agencies involved on the ground once an outbreak of any deadly disease reaches an acknowledged threshold of affected numbers. Both climate change and increasing populations have been cited as to why incidents are on the rise, globally, which is supported by the World Bank’s own annual loss calculations based on collateral damage assessed after a number of disasters. It’s understood that such incidents have multiplied tenfold since the early 1980s to around $140 billion (cost-wise) within the last decade.