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Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Pandemic Action Network proposes financing global pandemic preparedness through UN-run fund

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A new policy brief released this month by the advocacy group Pandemic Action Network (PAN) calls on world leaders to create a 100-day action plan toward creating a new financing mechanism at the United Nations General Assembly capable of bolstering pandemic preparedness by at least $10 billion annually for the next five years. 

Dubbed “A New Multilateral Financing Mechanism for Global Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness,” this proposal was the result of cooperation between the Center for Global Development, Nuclear Threat Initiative, and PAN. Together, they determined an effort was needed to inform and lead current conversations between governments and non-governmental stakeholders to establish a funding and action plan. In all, they are rallying for a $10 billion annual global investment in pandemic preparedness. They note the investment would be a fraction of the trillions of dollars spent to date on stimulus packages, vaccines, and other response measures since the COVID-19 pandemic began but would have a far-reaching impact.

“History has shown time and again that if action is not taken during a crisis, then political will dissipates once the crisis fades from view,” the partners wrote in their brief. “An expedited timeline for establishing the financing mechanism/Fund will provide a critical new tool for the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts and create continuity between the pandemic response and recovery activities while bridging to escalated and sustained efforts on pandemic preparedness.”

As an effort to pandemic-proof the world, the brief laid out a rigorous timeline running from September 2021 through 2022, with a series of milestones to guide it. These include:

  • September 2021: launch an action plan to create and resource a multilateral financing mechanism within 100 days;
  • October – November 2021: consult and negotiate toward the construction of an inclusive and accountable governance and catalytic operational Fund model, as well as design a Financial Intermediary Fund vehicle for submission to the World Bank for approval as the new financing mechanism’s foundation;
  • December 2021: first pledges for $10 billion annual goal ready as Fund launches;
  • 2022: an ongoing effort to mobilize resources, learn Fund governance and operational model, strengthen monitoring and assessment tools in guiding financing decisions and program evaluation.

Whatever form the final mechanism would take, PAN and its colleagues recognize that without certain efforts taken, such a fund could not succeed. These include strengthening country leadership and accountability for pandemic preparedness, as well as designing the Fund itself to encourage work across sectors, guarantee burden-sharing, incentivize domestic resource mobilization and drive process in cross-cutting areas not currently covered by global health organization mandates. 

The partners called for a mechanism that is designed at its core to unite and speed health, finance, security and other sectors toward quick, proper improvements of core capacities of pandemic prevention and response. 

Among encouraged investments were coordinated surveillance, data and lab networks; national and sub-level oversight and governance of biosafety, biosecurity and research; a strong frontline health workforce and infrastructure; stress-tested national, regional and global systems designed to halt the spread of outbreaks; and regional/global platforms and plans to drive and coordinate the research, development, manufacturing, stockpiling and delivery of medical countermeasures and supplies. 

“Experts predict that there is ‘every likelihood that the next pandemic will come within a decade, arising from a novel influenza strain, another coronavirus, or one of several other pathogens… [whose] impact on human health and the global economy could be even more profound than that of COVID-19,’” the authors wrote in their brief. “Whether the next pandemic emerges naturally or due to accidental or deliberate release, the world must invest now in rapidly building core capacities for both prevention and preparedness at national, regional, and global levels and develop long-term, sustained financing solutions.”