World Bank Group (WBG) is planning to launch a new multi-donor trust fund, in the wake of a public health crisis, to help developing countries get better prepared for disease outbreaks. The new Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Multi-Donor Fund (HEPRF) will be in addition to the earlier announced support of up to $160 billion of financing it will provide for 15 months to support COVID-19 measures.
HEPRF is aimed at supporting low-income countries to help increase investments in health preparedness and support the immediate COVID-19 response. The health preparedness will help such countries to quickly and effectively respond to major disease outbreaks at an early stage. The fund will also support other countries and territories that do not have access to financing such as IDA countries in arrears and non-creditworthy IBRD countries.
“The new HEPRF will be another tool in the World Bank’s COVID-19 response and longer-term health preparedness agenda to support low-income countries, as well as the most vulnerable communities, including refugees,” said Annette Dixon, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank, in a statement.
The World Bank stated that China has expressed its intention to become the founding donor of HEPRF, which is now open for contributions from all donor countries. Dixon thanked the Government of Japan for their “leadership in health security” and encouraged other donors to join the initiative.
Meanwhile, WBG and International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged countries to keep their trade open and allow markets to function, warning that export controls on medical supplies and other essentials could backfire. At a virtual press conference during spring meetings of both institutions, IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath asserted that this is not a time to restrict the trade of medical supplies and essential equipment around the world. The IMF and World Bank's advocacy for free trade came as protectionist sentiments are growing across the globe amid the pandemic.
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