On Saturday, the World Bank announced that it was launching a $500 million fast disbursing insurance fund to combat deadly pandemics in poor countries. This is the world’s first insurance market for pandemic risk.

The bank said that the facility will combine funding from reinsurance markets with the proceeds of a new world bank-issued high yield pandemic catastrophe bond and Japan is the first country to have committed $50 million to it.

The aim of the fund is that where there is a pandemic outbreak, funds from the facility will be released quickly to poor countries that have been affected and qualified international first responder agencies.

The facility was developed in conjunction with the World Health Organisation and reinsurers Swiss RE and Munich Re which are acting as insurance providers.

The diseases are limited in order to secure the insurance policy, for which the World Bank will pay premiums. Such diseases include deadly virus like Ebola, several types of influenza, and respiratory diseases like SARS amongst others.

This new facility came up as a result of the slow international response to Ebola outbreak in 2014 as during that period; it took months to create funds for affected countries. This in turn led to an increment in the percentage of death in that year.

At a media conference call, the Wold Bank President, Jim Yong Kim said, “the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa was a tragedy that we were simply not prepared for. It was a wakeup call to the world.

“We can’t change the speed of a hurricane or the magnitude of an earthquake, but we can change the trajectory of an outbreak. With enough money sent to the right place at the right time, we can save live and protect economies”

Author: Ope Adedeji