The World Bank has announced the establishment of a new Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) that will finance investments to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) at the national, regional, and global levels.
Officially established by the FIF Governing Board at its inaugural meeting from 8 to 9 September, the fund, according to the World Bank, “will provide a dedicated stream of additional, long-term financing to strengthen PPR capabilities in low-and middle-income countries.”
The fund’s establishment follows approval by the World Bank’s Board of Directors on 30 June.
The World Bank stated in a press statement Friday that it will serve as the FIF’s trustee and host the Secretariat with technical leadership from World Health Organisation (WHO), noting that the first calls for proposals for investments to be funded will open in November.
The financial institution added that over US$1.4 billion in financial commitments have already been announced and commitments have been made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Wellcome Trust, European Commission, Australia, Canada, China and 15 other countries.
In his comment, the World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said: “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. We welcome the broad support from the international community for this new, multilateral financial intermediary fund at the World Bank to help low- and middle-income countries and regions become better prepared for global health crises and are pleased to have been able to proceed quickly in establishing the fund.”
According to the statement, the new fund is overseen by a Governing Board, which will set the overall work program and make funding decisions.
The statement read in parts: “The FIF’s Governing Board includes equal representation of sovereign donors and potential implementing country governments (co-investors), as well as representatives from foundations and civil society organizations (CSOs).
“The World Bank and WHO will intensify their work with the Governing Board in consultation with CSOs and other stakeholders, to help operationalize the fund and develop the FIF results in framework and priorities in the run-up to the first call for proposals.
“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.”
Speaking at the board’s inaugural meeting, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “The suffering and loss we have all endured will be in vain unless we learn the painful lessons from COVID-19 and put in place the measures to fill critical gaps in the world’s defences against epidemics and pandemics.
“The FIF is one of those key measures, and WHO looks forward to fulfilling its technical leadership role in advising the FIF Board on where to make the most effective investments to protect health, especially in low- and middle-income countries.”