Donors have pledged an additional $15.3 million to support quick action by the World Health Organization to tackle disease outbreaks and humanitarian health crises through its emergency response fund in 2018, the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE).
Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom announced contributions ranging from $20,000 to $5.6 million – increasing CFE funding levels to $23 million.
This will enable the rapid financing of health response operations in the coming months, filling a critical gap between the moment the need for an emergency response is identified and the point at which funds from other sources can be released. WHO will seek to secure further donor commitments to achieve its $100 million funding target for the 2018/2019 biennium.
First-time pledges were made by Denmark, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta and Norway. The UK has increased its overall commitment to the fund from $10.5 million to $16 million, making it the second largest donor after Germany.
The CFE’s ability to release funds within 24 hours sets it apart from complementary financing mechanisms that have different funding criteria and slower disbursement cycles. While other funding mechanisms allow for the scale-up of response operations, none are designed to deliver an immediate and early response. The CFE has demonstrated that a small investment can save lives and dramatically reduce the direct costs of controlling outbreaks and responding to emergencies.
Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director general for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said that without the CFE, recent outbreaks of Ebola, Marburg virus and pneumonic plague could have gotten out of control. “By acting decisively and quickly, we can stop disease outbreaks and save thousands of lives for a fraction of the cost of a late response. The CFE has proven its value as a global public good that should be underwritten by long-term investment,” he said.
Since 2015, the CFE has enabled WHO, national authorities and health partners to get quick starts on more than 50 disease outbreaks, humanitarian crises and natural disasters, allocating more than $46 million. It has supported the rapid deployment of experts; better disease detection and reporting; the delivery of essential medicines, supplies and personal protective equipment; the strengthening of surveillance and vaccination; improved access to water, sanitation and health services; community engagement; and more.
In 2017, the CFE provided nearly $21 million for operations in 23 countries, with most allocations released within 24 hours. Over half (56 percent) of allocations funded responses in the WHO Africa region, with 28 percent going to responses in countries in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region and 11 percent to the South East Asia Region.