World yet not fully prepared for future pandemics: Gates Foundation prez
In a recent statement, Dr. Christopher J Elias, a top official of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, commended India and other nations for contributing to a global pandemic fund. However, he emphasized that the world remains insufficiently prepared for future pandemics, despite lessons learned from COVID-19.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, where discussions on ‘Disease X’ took center stage, Dr. Elias highlighted the ongoing need for efforts and discussions, particularly regarding financing requirements. He noted that the discussions had gained momentum following the Ebola outbreak eight years ago, reaching a critical juncture with the global response to COVID-19.
While acknowledging progress since the pandemic, Elias stressed that full preparedness involves anticipating both known diseases like influenza and unforeseen threats, such as ‘Disease X.’ He revealed ongoing negotiations by the World Health Organization (WHO) to create an accord, aiming to unite countries on necessary actions and financing.
Addressing financing needs, Dr. Elias mentioned an IMF report suggesting a yearly requirement of USD 10 billion for global pandemic preparedness. He pointed out that the creation of a pandemic fund at the Indonesian G20 two years ago, with contributions from nations including India, was a positive start. However, he acknowledged the fund’s current USD 2 billion falls short of the overall needed amount.
Regarding the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual budget, Dr. Elias expressed enthusiasm about the approval of the largest budget ever, USD 8.6 billion for 2024. The increase, approximately USD 1 billion more than 2021, reflects the foundation’s commitment to leading efforts in global health and development.
Elias outlined key areas for the funding, including concluding the polio eradication initiative. Despite India’s success more than ten years ago, efforts continue in specific regions. Additionally, the foundation remains dedicated to improving immunization and prioritizing support for areas with the greatest needs.
As discussions on global health and preparedness unfold, the foundation’s increased budget signals a commitment to addressing ongoing challenges and seizing opportunities for continued success in the realm of public health.