SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the deadliest emergencies in modern history, with an excess global death toll of 14.9 million (and still rising). It has pushed an estimated 100 million people into poverty and set back progress toward the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, not least SDG3: health and well-being for all. Despite the pandemic’s massive costs, the G-20 and international financial institutions still have not created a pandemic preparedness and response (PPR) framework capable of managing the next global health crisis.
“ We have yet to stamp out a pandemic that is undermining decades of progress, let alone equip ourselves for when the next outbreak inevitably occurs. ”
Workers at the world’s biggest assembly site for Apple’s iPhones walked out as Foxconn has struggled to contain a Covid-19 outbreak. The chaos highlights the tension between Beijing’s rigid pandemic controls and the urge to keep production on track. Photo: Hangpai Xinyang/Associated Press
Health spending slashed In many countries, health spending is being slashed (or kept at an insufficient level) as International Monetary Fund-driven austerity comes back into fashion. By next year, 85% of the world’s population will be suffering the effects of reduced investments in public services and public-sector capacity. Just 2½ years after the start of the pandemic, health is again being framed as a short-term discretionary expenditure, rather than as a long-term investment that is central to economic well-being and resilience. As world leaders have shifted their focus to issues like inflation and food insecurity, they have forgotten that today’s economic and financial crises are byproducts of a global health emergency that has yet to be resolved. COVID-19 is still killing 10,000 people per week, on average, and uneven vaccination rates have created the conditions for a “variant soup” that makes it more difficult to predict and respond to new waves and the next devastating mutation. COVID-19 outbreaks continue to disrupt manufacturing, travel, and access to treatment for other infectious diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. We have yet to stamp out a pandemic that is undermining decades of progress, let alone equip ourselves for when the next outbreak inevitably occurs.Just $1.30 per person The World Bank and the World Health Organization estimate that avoiding another tragedy like COVID-19 can be achieved with an investment in PPR of just $1.30 per person. And earlier this year, the international community established a multilateral Financial Intermediary Fund to help close the $10.5 billion annual PPR financing gap. Yet the FIF has generated only around $1.5 billion in funding so far. Similarly, in October, the IMF launched a Resilience and Sustainability Trust to help low- and middle-income countries finance urgent health (and cli …