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World Bank launches Sh50b fund to fight pandemics

By Reuters | May 23rd 2016

The World Bank is launching a $500 million (Sh50 billion) insurance fund to combat deadly pandemics in poor countries.

Japan has committed the first $50 million (Sh5 billion) towards the facility, which will combine funding from reinsurance markets with the proceeds of a new type of World Bank-issued high-yield pandemic ‘catastrophe’ bond, the bank said at weekend.

In the event of a pandemic outbreak, the facility will release funds quickly to affected poor countries and qualified international first-responder agencies. The genesis of the new facility was the slow international response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, when it took months to muster meaningful funds as death tolls mounted.

The insurance mechanism is limited to certain classes of infectious diseases most likely to cause major outbreaks, including several types of influenza, respiratory diseases such as SARS, and other deadly viruses. The mosquito-borne Zika virus is not included in the scheme.

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