WB prescribes ‘pandemic preparedness’

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GOVERNMENTS and international donors should finance country-level pandemic preparedness, according to a study released by the World Bank on Thursday.

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“Not investing enough in pandemic preparedness puts lives at risk and is bad economics. A severe pandemic could result in millions of deaths and cost trillions of dollars, and even smaller outbreaks can cost thousands of lives and cause immense economic damage,” according to a study by the WB International Working Group on Financing Preparedness.

The annual global cost of moderately severe to severe pandemics is roughly $570-billion of 0.7 percent of global income, the study noted.

“Pandemics can strike anywhere and everyone is at risk—especially the poor and the vulnerable. We must finally break the cycle of panic and neglect in our response to grave threats from infectious diseases. We have to ensure we are prepared, so the next outbreak does not become the next pandemic,” WB Group President Jim Yong Kim said.

The study noted that Ebola resurfaced recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the eighth time, with four possible deaths and 43 possible cases identified as of May 23.

“Outbreak preparedness is chronically under-funded, and we have been waiting for bold thinking on financing since at least the mid-nineties,” Director-General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan said.

“Implementing the IWG recommendations will ensure that every country mobilizes the resources necessary to prevent, detect and respond to future outbreaks,” Chan said.

The IWG recommends that national governments commit to conducting assessments of preparedness and animal health capacities by the end of 2019.

“Countries and international development partners all need to recognize the seriousness of pandemics and do their part to pay for preparedness,” Recep Akdag of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Turkey said.

“If we don’t do this now, we will find ourselves losing decades of health and economic gains when we are hit with an infectious disease outbreak,” Akdag said.

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