The World Bank has multiple mechanisms to quickly help countries facing public health issues. The Bank can provide emergency assistance, as well as disaster and pandemic preparedness, including through:
- Dedicated projects for emergency health responses. Investment operations can be prepared on a fast-track basis and can include up to 40 percent of retroactive financing for emergency response. Emergency operations can be prepared in approximately three months. In some past cases, such as Ebola, the Bank has supported affected countries with a new project prepared in less than two weeks.
- Contingent Emergency Response Components (CERCs) can be triggered or added to existing projects for an imminent or actual emergency. Many Bank-financed projects already have a CERC, which allows funds to be redirected from other parts of the project to cover emergency response needs. These funds can be used to finance the response to the coronavirus, including, for example, the purchase of medical supplies; the hiring, training, and transport of medical personnel; and medical waste management. If a Bank client’s portfolio does not have projects that already contain CERCs, it is possible to add them.
- Restructuring existing projects in a country’s portfolio on a fast-track basis. This restructuring would introduce the objective of emergency support, as well as a reallocation of funds.
- Providing supplemental financing to countries that are already implementing a Development Policy Finance program, including through Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT-DDOs), and that are facing an urgent and unexpected financing gap (e.g., resulting from commodity price shocks, natural disasters, health emergencies, etc.).
For the most vulnerable countries, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) will continue to support the strengthening of primary health care systems and public health preparedness.