What the World Bank is doing
The World Bank supports countries in their efforts to prevent pandemics by strengthening veterinary and human health systems, as well as the bridges between them. As we launch an early replenishment of IDA 20, the fund for the world’s poorest countries, crisis preparedness has been identified as one of the four cross-cutting themes. To date, IDA is deploying unprecedented support to enable more than 70 countries to focus on pandemic response, while setting the stage for an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient recovery.
Already under IDA 19, the World Bank sharpened its focus on building crisis resilience including pandemic preparedness, committing to help at least 25 countries implement pandemic preparedness plans.
Together with the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF), we are supporting multilateral efforts such as the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and COVAX. The ACT-A brings together governments, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists and global health organizations to speed up an end to the pandemic by supporting the development and equitable distribution of the tests, treatments, and vaccines.
We are also working with governments, Gavi, the Global Fund, UNICEF, and the WHO to help more than 140 countries get ready for vaccine deployment. The report “Assessing Country Readiness for COVID-19” launched in March 2021, highlights findings from assessments of 128 low- and middle-income countries and shows that while 85 percent of countries have developed national vaccination plans, only 30 percent have plans to train the number of vaccinators needed and 27 percent have put public engagement strategies in place to address vaccine hesitancy.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) threatens to wipe out a decade of human capital gains – leaving an entire generation behind – as countries struggle to contain the virus, save lives and rebuild their economies. It also poses a severe public health challenge that requires coordinated action and continued transparency around the world.
The World Bank is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries and the poorest people during this unprecedented crisis. We are delivering urgent support to over 100 countries, reaching 70 percent of the world’s population, with projects that deliver scale and impact. Our operational response is tailored to the health, economic and social shocks countries are facing.
We are providing $12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments and strengthen vaccination systems. These vaccines, alongside widespread testing, improved treatment, and strong health systems, are critical to protecting lives and stimulating economic recovery. Fair and equitable access to effective and safe the vaccines is vital.
Because strengthening vaccination systems has many components, we are supporting countries to get ready by: establishing policies for safe and effective deployment; expanding storage and building cold chains; developing tracking systems to make sure vaccines reach people and are distributed as intended; training and motivating front-line health workers; supporting citizen and community engagement programs to build support and understanding of the benefits, and apprehensions addressed; and identifying and targeting of highest risk populations, especially for front line health worker to sustain and scale the response.
See more on what the World Bank Group’s Operational Response to COVID-19 in the Health Sectors.
Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Program
The Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (HEPR) Umbrella Program complements the World Bank’s efforts to provide further resources in response to COVID-19 and other health emergencies. The HEPR Umbrella Program provides upstream, catalytic, and rapid financing to the most vulnerable countries, including those unable to access traditional World Bank financing. The program offers a flexible mechanism that makes resources available before a country accesses other funding sources or even when there is insufficient domestic funding.
As of May 2021, 9 grants for health emergency preparedness and 18 grants for health emergency response have been awarded.
See more on the HEPR program here.
Regional Disease Surveillance Systems (REDISSE)
To enhance regional preparedness the World Bank expanded IDA financing for the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) Program. The initiative is a series of projects to strengthen national, regional, and cross-sectoral capacity for integrated disease surveillance and response in 16 West and Central African countries.
The program has two objectives:
1. to address systemic weaknesses within the animal and human health systems that hinder effective cross sectoral and cross border collaboration for disease surveillance and response, and;
2. in the event of an eligible emergency, to provide immediate and effective response to said eligible emergency.
See more on REDISSE including its financing and recipient countries in the Results section.
Antimicrobials are drugs – such as antibiotics – that kill or control disease-causing microbes. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes mutate or adapt in ways that enable them to withstand antimicrobials, rendering treatments ineffective. AMR is dramatically accelerated by the over-use and misuse of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, in people and animals.
Without action, the death toll from AMR could rise even higher, to as many as 10 million deaths annually by 2050. The world’s poorest people --those living in low- and middle-income countries or in the increasing areas affected by fragility, conflict, and violence-- are especially vulnerable.
The World Bank’s 2019 report Pulling Together to Beat Superbugs found that AMR already causes 700,000 deaths per year. We have also developed a One Health Operational Framework to promote, strengthen and operationalize human, animal and environmental public health systems.
Unchecked, AMR will hamper progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, harm economies and negatively impact human capital. If countries don’t act to stop the rise of AMR, its economic impact is projected to rise to more than $1 trillion annually after 2030.
To help prevent this, the World Bank is including interventions that address AMR containment in its health investments in the developing world. Examples include the Africa CDC Regional Investment Financing Project which is supporting the establishment of Centers of Excellence in AMR, piloting a scorecard for AMR and an innovative approach for One Health. The REDISSE program (above) is also upgrading public health and veterinary laboratories to strengthen capacities and collaboration. Another example is the Regional Sahel Pastoralism Support Project which contains AMR mitigation activities.
For more information on AMR, please see here.
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Regional Investment Financing Project (ACDCP)
The World Bank’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Regional Investment Financing Project supports (with $250 million) Ethiopia, Zambia, and the African Union (AU) in combatting epidemics and advancing critical public health priorities. Launched in 2017, the project is linking existing public health institutions and pooling the capabilities of national health authorities. It is also financing the establishment of laboratories, transnational surveillance networks, emergency-response mechanisms, and other public health assets designed to manage diseases on a regional and continental scale. The ACDCP is supporting the implementation of Africa CDC’s flagship innovation RISLNET (Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Network) in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions.
It supports the development of guidelines and standards to improve coordination between the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and national public health institutions across the African continent. The project facilitates the sharing of public health assets and the exchange of vital data on infectious diseases. It also aims to build the capacity of regional and continental public health institutions.
Last Updated: May 13, 2021