WHO and European Investment Bank partner to combat COVID-19

— strengthen health systems

DPI, Guyana, Friday, May 1, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is solidifying its partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to strengthen primary health care and build resilient health systems.

At his media briefing earlier today, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that the COVID-19 crisis has illustrated that even the most sophisticated health systems have struggled to cope with a pandemic.

He noted the organisation’s concerns about the potential impact the virus could have as it begins to accelerate in countries with weaker health systems.

WHO DG

WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The EIB and WHO will collaborate to urgently invest in health infrastructure and health workers in 10 countries in Africa and the Middle East in the initial stages.

“EIB and WHO are exploring how the European Investment Bank could support the COVID-19 Supply Chain System, to facilitate the distribution of diagnostics, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to countries that need them most,” Dr. Ghebreyesus explained.

He added that they study market failures in other areas of public health, and examine how innovative financing could help overcome investment barriers and increase access to life-saving products and services.

In recent years the EIB has provided over EUR $2 Billion annually for health care and life science investment.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EIB is currently assessing over 20 projects in the field of vaccine development, diagnostic and treatment, leading to potential investments in the 700 million EUR range.

The EIB will also take part in the EU’s rolling pledging effort for the coronavirus global response that is taking place on May 4.

Additionally, under the new agreement the EIB and WHO will support the development of the EU Malaria Fund, a new 250 million EUR public-private initiative intended to address market failures holding back more effective malaria treatment.

Dr. Ghebreyesus noted that while malaria deaths have fallen by more than half since the year 2000, progress has stalled in recent years, and may even reverse if the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts malaria control programmes.

He, however, is confident that with WHO’s technical expertise and the EIB’s financial muscle, the development of new tools to eradicate malaria will be accelerated.

Dr. Ghebreyesus also announced that the two organizations will work together to foster the development of new innovative antibacterial treatments. They are in discussions with potential investors and other stakeholders on this initiative.

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