first_imgTOKYO—Investing in the world’s capacity to respond to epidemics “is really investing in the resilience of the global economic system,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said here today in advance of an international meeting in Japan.Kim met reporters in Tokyo ahead of a U.N. disaster risk reduction conference that begins tomorrow in Sendai. Last October, in the wake of what he called a “late, inadequate, and slow” global response to the Ebola outbreak, Kim floated the idea of a pandemic emergency facility. Today he expanded on the idea, including why the World Bank should be involved.He said natural disasters and disease outbreaks have a devastating impact on economic growth, with the countries and citizens least able to afford it bearing the heaviest burden. The World Bank has estimated that the Ebola epidemic is taking a $1.6 billion bite out of the economies of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. “Prior to the start of the epidemic, these three countries had some of the highest [economic] growth rates in the world; now their rates are expected to be near or below zero,” he said.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The World Bank committed more than $500 million to address the crisis, but the money only started flowing 8 months after the outbreak began, he said. “We need to respond much more quickly to the next outbreak,” he said. And that requires better planning.His proposed pandemic emergency facility would build on lessons learned from the Ebola crisis. “The World Health Organization [WHO] has to be at the center of the response,” said Kim, a physician and anthropologist who once headed WHO’s HIV/AIDS department. He said WHO’s response capacity has deteriorated in recent years and should be restored. “If we had enough money at WHO I think we could have put out the Ebola epidemic much earlier,” he said.Kim said the response to bigger epidemics, which he considers inevitable, will require coordination among a number of U.N. agencies. For example, the World Food Programme might contribute its expertise in moving supplies, while the United Nations Children’s Fund could apply its knowledge of working with grassroots health networks. But those roles need to be defined in advance, he said. He would also like to see the creation of a large reserve corps of doctors and nurses for emergency duty and periodic drills “to keep ourselves prepared for when big events happen,” he said.Planning for a major health emergency should involve financial and business players from both the private and public sectors, he noted, as epidemics can wreak havoc with economic activity. Bringing insurance companies to the table will help focus attention on the economic risks of disease outbreaks, he argued, and pharmaceutical, transport, and communications companies all have vital roles to play in responding to a disease outbreak.Kim said he had a hard time gaining the attention of finance ministers and bank officials when he was working in public health. But now that he’s president of the World Bank, he said, “they have to listen to me.”last_img