ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has established a new fund to strengthen pandemic preparedness and response mechanisms in low and middle-income countries

The new ‘financial intermediary fund (FIF)’ for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) has been officially established to provide financing for PPR capabilities at national, regional, and global levels, said a statement by the World Bank.

The decision to formally establish the fund was taken by the FIF governing board at its meeting on Friday.

The World Bank will host the fund with technical leadership from the World Health Organisation. It will also address critical gaps through investments and technical support.

The fund will provide support and improve coordination among institutions engaged in PPR. It will also serve as a platform for advocacy and provide help to strengthen health systems.

With over $1.4 billion in financial commitments already announced, the first calls for proposals for investments will open in November.

FIF financing could help strengthen and sustain PPR capacity in areas such as zoonotic disease surveillance; laboratories; emergency communication, coordination and management; critical health workforce capacities; and community engagement, the statement added.

“FIF-financed projects can also help strengthen PPR at the regional and global levels, for example, by building capacity for medical countermeasures.”

The World Bank will serve as the FIF’s trustee with technical staff from the WHO. The fund’s governing board will appoint a technical advisory panel, chaired by the WHO, comprising leading experts to assess and make recommendations to the board on the merits of the proposals while ensuring adherence to health regulations.

World Bank Group President David Malpass. said that Covid-19 has highlighted the pressing need for action to build stronger health systems.

“Investing now will save lives and resources for the years to come,” said Mr Malpass adding that the fund will help low and middle-income countries and regions to be better prepared for global health crisis.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2022

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