World Bank

Insurance Fund to Battle Epidemics

Speedy assistance is essential to avoid epidemics like Ebola.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Innovative funds to battle epidemics are needed as viruses today can move quickly around the globe.

  • Facts


    • The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has stricken 27,000 people and killed 11,000 to date.
    • Modern air travel increases the likelihood of epidemics spreading rapidly around the world.
    • European countries and the insurance industry are open to an insurance model to protect against pandemics.
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Led by German financial expert Joachim von Amsberg and supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the World Bank is pressing ahead with plans for a global program to protect against epidemics like Ebola. The program is on the agenda at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria.

The move follows an earlier attempt by World Bank President Jim Kim to launch a global health fund that could be tapped in emergencies to provide assistance to affected regions.

Mr. Kim, who once worked as a doctor in developing countries, knows how critical speed is in averting epidemics: The faster a virus can be controlled, the less severe the consequences.

But Mr. Kim’s initial idea was rebuffed, especially by Europeans who argued that payment obligations would impose too heavy a burden on the budgets of donor countries.

The European resistance prompted World Bank Vice President Joachim von Amsberg to come up with a Plan B. The new plan calls for creating an insurance market that governments could use to prepare for epidemics. Essentially, the World Bank would give the insurance industry a leg up in developing policies for epidemic risks.

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