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Ruchir Agarwal and Ms. Gita Gopinath
Pandemics and epidemics pose risks to lives, societies, and economies, and their frequency is expected to increase as rising trade and increased human interaction with animals leads to the emergence of new diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic teaches us that we can and must be better prepared, with scope for much greater global coordination to address the financing, supply-chain, and trade barriers that amplified the pandemic’s economic costs and contributed to the emergence of new variants. This paper draws seven early lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic that could inform future policy priorities and help shape a better global response to future crises.
Ruchir Agarwal, Ms. Gita Gopinath, Jeremy Farrar, Richard Hatchett, and Peter Sands
The pandemic is not over, and the health and economic losses continue to grow. It is now evident that COVID-19 will be with us for the long term, and there are very different scenarios for how it could evolve, from a mild endemic scenario to a dangerous variant scenario. This realization calls for a new strategy that manages both the uncertainty and the long-term risks of COVID-19. There are four key policy implications of such as strategy. First, we need to achieve equitable access beyond vaccines to encompass a comprehensive toolkit. Second, we must monitor the evolving virus and dynamically upgrade the toolkit. Third, we must transition from the acute response to a sustainable strategy toward COVID-19, balanced and integrated with other health and social priorities. Fourth, we need a unified risk-mitigation approach to future infectious disease threats beyond COVID-19. Infectious diseases with pandemic potential are a threat to global economic and health security. The international community should recognize that its pandemic financing addresses a systemic risk to the global economy, not just the development need of a particular country. Accordingly, it should allocate additional funding to fight pandemics and strengthen health systems both domestically and overseas. This will require about $15 billion in grants this year and $10 billion annually after that.
Ms. Mercedes Garcia-Escribano, Pedro Juarros, and Ms. Tewodaj Mogues
Demands for ramping up health expenditures are at an all-time high. Countries’ needs for additional health resources include responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, closing gaps in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal in health in most emerging and developing countries, and serving an ageing population in advanced economies. Facing limited fiscal space for raising health spending focuses policymakers’ attention on ensuring that resources are used efficiently. How sizable are the potential gains—in terms of freeing up resources and delivering better health outcomes—from improving health spending efficiency? How has efficiency evolved over the past decade? What can policymakers do to boost it? This paper estimates health spending efficiency across countries using bias-corrected data envelopment analysis and finds sizable differences in efficiency across countries, in particular among emerging and developing countries compared to advanced economies. The examination of the evolution of efficiency reveals that important efficiency gains have been made in the majority of countries. The paper also explores some of the key drivers of efficiency and finds that lower income inequality, less corruption, and health interventions oriented at expanding population access to basic health services are associated with greater efficiency.