A Milestone in Global Preparedness
In a significant step towards enhancing global pandemic preparedness, the Pandemic Fund’s Governing Board has given its seal of approval to grants under the first round of funding allocations.
These grants aim to bolster the resilience of 37 countries spanning six regions, by fortifying disease surveillance, early warning systems, laboratory capabilities, and the health workforce.
The Pandemic Fund’s Inception and Purpose
A Novel Multilateral Financing Mechanism
Founded in September 2022 and officially launched during Indonesia’s G20 Presidency at the G20 meetings in Bali last November, the Pandemic Fund represents a pioneering multilateral financing mechanism.
Its primary goal is to provide multiyear grants to support low- and middle-income countries in their efforts to better prepare for future pandemics.
The World Bank serves as the host for the fund, which has already amassed an impressive $2 billion in seed capital from 25 sovereign and philanthropic contributors.
Rigorous Selection Process and Diverse Portfolio
Navigating Challenges with Inclusivity
After the Pandemic Fund closed its first Call for Proposals in May of this year, it received an overwhelming response with 179 applications from 133 countries.
The Governing Board of the Pandemic Fund met on July 19, 2023, and based on the technical recommendations from the independent Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), they selected 19 projects that align with the first Call for Proposals’ three priority areas.
These initiatives will be rolled out in 37 countries, covering all World Bank geographic regions, with a minimum of two projects allocated per region.
Addressing Regional Disparities
Notably, approximately 30% of the grants are dedicated to projects in sub-Saharan Africa, which has shown the highest demand for Pandemic Fund support. Additionally, over 75% of the selected projects will be implemented in low and lower-middle-income countries.
The chosen projects involve various Implementing Entities, and they collectively contribute to the Pandemic Fund’s objectives, which include dedicated resources for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, as well as improved coordination among partners and enhanced advocacy efforts.
Commitment to Equity and Transparency
Ensuring an Inclusive Process
The co-chairs of the Pandemic Fund Board, Dr. Chatib Basri, former Minister of Finance of Indonesia, and Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Minister of Health, Rwanda, expressed their satisfaction with the swift progress made by the Pandemic Fund in allocating funding to projects that strike a balance across regions, country income groups, and participating Implementing Entities.
Driven by their commitment to equity, the Pandemic Fund Board ensured an inclusive and transparent selection process where all proposals underwent independent reviews and evaluations by the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP).
Tackling Inequalities Exposed by COVID-19
With confidence, the Board anticipates that the portfolio of projects funded will significantly enhance pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR) capacities while addressing the inequalities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mobilizing Additional Resources and Encouraging Collaboration
Amplifying Impact Through Collaboration
The Pandemic Fund’s mission to catalyze funding and promote coordination becomes evident as it awards $338 million in grants, expected to mobilize over $2 billion in additional resources.
This substantial multiplier effect, adding $6 for each $1 from the Fund, underlines the broad support and enthusiasm for strengthening pandemic preparedness worldwide.
Collaborative Efforts for Regional Resilience
Numerous projects have been developed through collaboration between countries, UN agencies, and Multilateral Development Banks. The involvement of civil society and delivery partner networks further demonstrates the collective efforts invested in responding to this critical call for proposals.
Many of the selected projects also embrace a cross-border and regional approach, adopting the One Health perspective, which unites efforts across human, animal, and ecosystem health considerations, while also addressing gender and equity.
Lessons for the Future
The Pandemic Fund’s Executive Head, Priya Basu, emphasized the demand from countries for grant financing to bolster pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
By receiving eight times more submissions than expected in the first Call for Proposals, the Pandemic Fund successfully sparked significant additional resources and encouraged multi-country projects that foster regional collaboration.
As this first round of funding concludes, the Pandemic Fund is eager to draw essential lessons that will inform future strategies.
A Collaborative Effort
Broad Support for Preparedness
Grants from the Pandemic Fund play a crucial role in attracting co-financing from both public and private sources. Technical expertise provided by partners such as the World Health Organization complements these funding efforts.
The composition of the Pandemic Fund’s Governing Board, with equal representation from sovereign contributors, co-investors, foundations/non-sovereign contributors, and civil society organizations, underscores the spirit of collaboration and collective responsibility.
As the world takes another step forward in strengthening pandemic preparedness, the initiatives supported by the Pandemic Fund hold the promise of a more resilient and better-prepared global community in the face of future health challenges.