This post originally appeared on the World Bank’s Blog. Below is an excerpt.
During the World Bank’s 2020 Annual Meetings last month, we had our focus firmly on the coronavirus pandemic and how it’s affecting lives and economies around the world. During the Global Health Roundtable we discussed how the world can invest in COVID-19 vaccines as well as strengthen the health systems that deliver primary care.
Participants agreed that the world’s most pressing immediate priority is to speed the development and delivery of vaccines that can control the spread of COVID-19. We need to ensure that vaccines are available equitably to all countries – particularly the poorest, which have the least resources to procure and deploy them.
Delivering vaccines quickly and equitably will demand tremendous collaboration. Roundtable speakers highlighted the need for robust supply chain infrastructure – such as transportation systems, logistics, and ultra-cold freezers – to deliver vaccines and treatments, including by using new digital technologies and information systems. The aviation industry will be particularly important in distribution. As one speaker noted, “vaccines don’t deliver themselves.”
Strengthening primary health care systems has long been central to the World Bank’s work in developing countries. Resilient systems will now be key not only to distributing vaccines, but also to ensuring that other critical services, especially maternal and child health, continue during a pandemic. Early estimates suggest that child mortality could rise by 45% with health services curtailed and less access to food.
Ministers agreed that the COVID-19 response needs to prioritize health and community workers and other high-risk populations , and that it’s vital to ensure vaccines are affordable by addressing payment and access bottlenecks.
They also described the challenge of raising sufficient domestic financing both to tackle the huge cost of fighting the pandemic and to strengthen their health systems for future outbreaks. Through IDA, the World Bank is working to provide critical investments in the poorest countries, as well as technical assistance and public expenditure reviews to help improve spending efficiency. International donor cooperation will also remain important to ensure timely financing and support.
Read the entire blog to see how the World Bank and partners are supporting countries as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic.