The World Bank Group’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) today made its first-ever financial commitment, approving a $12 million grant towards the current Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The grant, approved today at an emergency meeting of the PEF Steering Body, will be made from the Cash Window of the PEF. It will support the surge in activities of the DRC Government and international responders outlined under the approved three-month $56.8 million Ebola response plan, released Monday by the DRC Government. As of today, there have been a total of 50 cases and 27 deaths from the current outbreak.
The PEF, an innovative financing mechanism set up by the World Bank Group in partnership with Japan, Germany, the World Health Organization (WHO), and private sector partners, has been operational since July 2017 and consists of both a cash and an insurance component.
“Today’s grant commitment from the PEF, along with strong Government, WBG and other partner support, enables us to focus entirely on the Ebola response and the health needs of our people at this challenging time, instead of on raising funds,” said Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, Minister of Health of DRC. “The challenges are steep but we are committed to pushing forward an effective and transparent response.”
“This historic first commitment from the PEF sends a strong message that we can act in a swift and bold manner against a serious infectious disease threat,” said Gerd Müller, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. “This would not have been possible even a year ago.” The PEF’s Cash Window has been set up through an $61 million commitment from Germany.
“We always believed that the PEF offered a new model for financing pandemic response. That’s why we decided to support the PEF as the first international partner to contribute to the Insurance Window,” said Masatsugu Asakawa, Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Ministry of Finance of Japan. “Today’s decision reinforces the importance of this mechanism.”
“This robust and timely grant from the PEF signals a major change in the way the global community approaches pandemics,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “It shows that we have learned some of the stark lessons of the deadly 2014 Ebola outbreak and are well on our way to stopping the cycle of panic and neglect. The PEF is built to have the speed and flexibility that’s needed to fight pandemics. Along with World Bank Group’s own financing, it is a critical part of our effort to ensure that money does not hold back effective pandemic response.”
In addition to the PEF, the World Bank Group also reallocated today the entire $15 million investment in disease surveillance in DRC, planned over three years, to the current Ebola response plan. This brings the total committed financing from the PEF and WBG to $27 million, ensuring that the Government’s three-month $56.8 million Ebola response plan is fully funded in 2 days by the government of DRC and international partners. This marks the first time that such a significant amount has been mobilized so rapidly in the context of a major disease outbreak. Additionally, The World Bank Group has also activated the use of the Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC) of its DRC Heath System Project investment, which would allow the government access to an additional $80 million in IDA credits to respond to the outbreak, if needed.
In addition to the Cash Window activated today, the PEF also currently has a $425 million Insurance Window with premiums funded by Japan and Germany, consisting of bonds placed on the capital markets. This would be triggered if a much larger, multi-country response is needed. All activation criteria are based upon publicly available data provided by the WHO. The PEF covers 77 of the world’s poorest countries against pandemic threats and is the first mechanism to be expressly designed for this purpose.