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Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility allocates $195m to low-income countries to fight COVID-19

By Cynthia Ang

The steering body of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) has announced the allocation of $195.84m to 64 of the world’s poorest countries with reported cases of COVID-19. The PEF was designed to provide financing through either its cash or insurance windows, covering six viruses that are most likely to cause a pandemic.

The allocation of $195.84m is the amount received when the PEF insurance window triggered for COVID-19 as reported by AIR Worldwide, an independent calculation agent. At the time all trigger conditions were met, 4,653 cases, or 0.62% of reported COVID-19 cases globally, were from the world’s poorest countries that are members of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). The PEF funding will provide a boost of financing to support the immediate health response early in the outbreak in IDA countries with COVID-19 cases (with 35,195 cases, or 1.34% of reported COVID-19 cases globally as of 24 April 2020).

The PEF was established in 2016 to provide financial support to IDA-eligible countries in case of major multi-country disease outbreaks. The PEF cash window paid out US$61.4 million in support of the response to the 9th and 10th Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018 and 2019.

Special attention will be given to areas with the most vulnerable populations, especially in fragile and conflict-affected countries. The funds will provide additional support to these countries in their COVID-19 response, including essential and critical lifesaving medical equipment, personal protective equipment, therapeutics and medicine, and support for health workers on the frontlines of the crisis.

“This funding is in addition to the World Bank Group’s commitment of up to $160bn to fight COVID-19,” said Ms Annette Dixon, vice president for human development at the World Bank. “PEF funding will supplement the critical emergency support operations underway to help save lives, detect, prevent and respond to coronavirus in poor countries.”

Specific funding allocations will be determined by population size and reported cases, with a minimum of $1m and maximum of $15m going to each country, and a heavier weight given to countries classified as fragile or conflict-affected. These countries face greater challenges with their health systems and are home to the most vulnerable people. Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, it was already estimated that up to two thirds of the world’s extreme poor would live in fragile and conflict affected areas by 2030.

The PEF Funds will be used to help vulnerable countries scale up testing, quickly identify new cases and treat them, and rapidly trace and isolate their contacts. The financing will also be used to help train health workers and maintain the delivery of essential health services to households.

Financial disbursements from the PEF will begin as soon as next week, as governments from each of the countries submit authorised funding allocation requests, according to a press statement from the World Bank on 27 April.

Asia Insurance Review

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