Following the February 2023 call for expressions of interest, which far exceeded expectations with requests for more than $7 billion of grant financing, the Pandemic Fund closed its first Call for Proposals on May 19, 2023, with final allocation decisions expected in late July 2023.
The first Call generated a total of 179 applications from 129 low- and middle-income countries with requests for over $2.5 billion in grants (representing around eight times the resource envelope that has been set for the first Call). The proposals focus on the three priorities of the first Call, namely, strengthening disease surveillance, lab capacity, and the public health work force. This level of demand clearly shows that countries want to invest in pandemic prevention and preparedness.
The Fund’s operating structure is designed to catalyze funding from additional external sources—public and private, as well as from domestic resources—and to coordinate efforts among global health entities in support of country needs and priorities. COVID-19 was a reminder of the chronic underfunding of the pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) agenda, the need to significantly scale up investments, and to do so in a coordinated manner.
The WHO-World Bank report to the G20 Finance and Health Task Force estimated that the total annual global financing needed for the future PPR system is $31.1 billion, of which $10.5 billion per year in international financing would be required.
In addition to financing, the Pandemic Fund will also help promote a more coordinated and coherent approach to PPR by bringing together key institutions engaged in PPR and health system financing around country and regional needs, and linking financing with existing, country- and regional-level planning and prioritization processes.
With an inclusive governance, the Fund’s Board, which oversees, among other things, the Call for Proposals process, includes balanced representation from sovereign contributors and sovereign co-investors (low- and middle-income countries eligible to receive funding) as well as representation from philanthropic contributors and civil society from both the Global North and the Global South. The Fund’s Board was reset in May 2023. Contributor seats were reset to reflect signed financial contributions while the co-investor and civil society seats were reset though a self-organization process that these constituencies managed, respectively.
In keeping with the vision of a diverse and inclusive Board, on June 1, the Board selected Dr. Chatib Basri, the former Minister of Finance of Indonesia, who served as co-Chair and then Chair during the Fund’s interim period (from September 2022 to May 2023), and Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Minister of Health, Rwanda, to serve as co-Chairs for a two-year term.