World Bank Prexy Raps On Global Epidemic

The President of the World Bank Group, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, has called on nations of the world to invest in better preparedness for the next global Epidemic.

The World Bank Boss said this starts with a strong health system that can deliver essential, quality care; disease surveillance; and diagnostic capabilities.

“We should expand successful efforts such as those by Ethiopia and Rwanda to train cadres of community health workers, who can expand access to care and serve as the frontline response to future disease outbreaks. The goal must be universal health coverage – both to ensure everyone can get the care they need, and also because those areas without adequate coverage put everyone at risk,” the World Bank President Observed in an Article recently Published entitled “Are we prepared for the Next Global Epidemic? The Public Doesn’t Think So.”

He said the public gets this strong majority belief that investing in doctors, nurses and clinics in developing countries helps prevent epidemics from breaking out in their own countries and saves lives and money. However he noted that Korea’s experience shows that even the most advanced health systems need to step up their epidemic preparedness.

Second, Mr. Kim said, “We need a smarter, better coordinated global epidemic preparedness and response system that draws upon the expertise of many more players – including a better-resourced WHO. The early months of responding to the Ebola epidemic fell disproportionately upon the heroic Médecins Sans Frontières.”

He said outbreaks will happen, but they can be contained before they turn into much more deadly and costly global epidemics.

He observed that “This requires pre-set arrangements and close coordination between national and local governments, international bodies, the private sector and non-governmental organizations, with a supply chain that can be up and running in no time.”

The World Bank Boss observed that the private sector, which was largely shut out of the initial response to Ebola, can bring market discipline, innovation and additional resources to the fight.

“Third, we must be able to get emergency funding out the door and deploy rapid response teams at the first sign of a crisis. If a fast-moving epidemic hits, the traditional approach of issuing fund-raising appeals just isn’t good enough,” Mr. Kim said.

He disclosed that the World Bank Group is working with the WHO and other institutions on one part of the solution, saying “something we call a pandemic emergency financing facility. Endorsed by the leaders of the Group of 7 in Germany in June, the facility aims to make sure adequate and timely financing is available to countries and international responders to effectively contain a pandemic threat.”

He further disclosed that the facility is developing innovative financing arrangements such as private sector insurance and public sector contingency pools that can disburse rapidly to support a surge in health workers or the setting up of emergency response operations centers.

Mr. Jim Jong Kim said governments have already used this model to successfully manage climate and natural disaster risks.

He said two years ago, a survey of 30,000 insurance executives showed that a global epidemic was their greatest worry.

However he observed that the executives’ alarm was ignored – as were the previous warnings from SARS and avian flu.

“Today, with the painful reminder of the latest epidemic and public support strongly in favor, it’s time to tackle epidemic prevention and response. We must break the cycle of talk and no action,” the World Bank President said.