The threat of Ebola in West Africa is not over, yet after more than 11,000 deaths, and billions of dollars in lost income. The Ebola viruses have been largely confined to a few countries because they are transmitted through close contact. But what would happen if the world faced a fast-moving, airborne disease such as the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918-19? Modelling suggests a Spanish flu-like outbreak today would kill more than 33 million people in 250 days. And the cost of such a severe outbreak has been estimated at 4.8% of global GDP - or more than $3.6 trillion.
The world is not prepared for the next epidemic. We're no better equipped to respond quickly to an outbreak than we were a year ago. We need to do three things. First, let's ensure that all countries invest in better preparedness. Second, 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. 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 fundraising appeals just isn't good enough. The World Bank Group is working with the WHO and other institutions on one part of the solution - something we call a Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF). The facility aims to make sure adequate and timely financing is available to countries and international responders to effectively contain a pandemic threat. It 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.
Taking the opportunity of the visit of Mukesh Chawla, Head, Health Nutrition & Population, and Carlo Segni, Lead Financial Officer/Deriv & Financial Engineering, World Bank, this seminar will brief on the PEF, and will provide a forum of discussion.
Special Representative, Japan, the World Bank Tokyo Office
Head, Health Nutrition & Population, Global Practice, World Bank Group
Lead Financial Officer / Deriv & Financial Engineering, Treasury, World Bank
Dean, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies; Director, Waseda University
Chairperson, Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP)