April 13, 2023

Event Summary

The GHSA Sustainable Financing for Preparedness Action Package (SFP AP) held a GHSA-wide webinar with representatives of the Pandemic Fund Secretariat to share updates on the first Call for Proposals and answer questions from the GHSA member community. Participants discussed complementarities between the GHSA and the Pandemic Fund and how the GHSA and its members can best engage, support, and leverage efforts of the Pandemic Fund.

In support of countries and partners interested in participating in the Pandemic Fund’s first call for proposals, Pakistan, Senegal, and Thailand shared their country experiences, challenges, and successes thus far in their proposal development process. This webinar was the first of a two-part series. Part 2 will dive deeper into countries experiences after submission period ends on May 19th.

Ilya Plotkin, Senior Global Health Officer in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Global Affairs opened the event with a brief overview of the Pandemic Fund and the GHSA SFP AP. The devastating impact of COVID-19 highlighted the urgent need for coordinated action in strengthening health systems and mobilizing resources for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR). The Pandemic Fund was launched in November 2022 as a joint effort of the G20 Finance and Health Ministers’ Meeting, with the goal of providing dedicated long-term financing for pandemic PPR. The grant funding from the Pandemic Fund is intended to incentivize additional investments from countries and implementing entities.

The first Call for Proposals opened on March 3rd, with an initial financing envelope of $300 million. Expressions of interest (EOIs) received earlier in 2023 totaled more than $7 billion, indicating a high demand for funding. Additional commitments from donors are required to bridge the $10 billion annual gap identified by experts. The success of the Pandemic Fund in its first year is critical to ensure its longevity and sustainability. As it grows, the Pandemic Fund’s Governing Board will need to make important decisions including on its governing structure to ensure it is fit for purpose, how to allocate this funding at the country level in a way that is efficient and equitable, and determine the best mix of value for money interventions for disease surveillance, lab systems, and human resources in country proposals, priorities identified for the first Call for Proposals.

Since its establishment in 2019, GHSA members in the SFP AP have been working together to make the case for investment in and achievement of sustainable financing for preparedness through greater advocacy and improving interactions between Health and Finance, including around mobilizing domestic resource for preparedness. As part of its mandate, the SFP AP facilitates sharing of country experiences and lessons learned to inform global health policy and practice.

The Pandemic Fund Status Update and First Call for Proposals: What You Need to Know

Priya Basu

Priya Basu, Executive Head of the Pandemic Fund Secretariat provided an overview of the Pandemic Fund’s governance structure and what countries need to know about the first Call of Proposals, Results Framework, and scoring methodology.

The Pandemic Fund was established in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the need to strengthen global pandemic PPR capacities, particularly in low and middle-income countries. A study conducted in March 2022 estimated that an additional $31.1 billion per year over the next five years was required to enhance pandemic PPR capabilities in these countries, with two-thirds of the financing expected to come from domestic sources and one-third from external sources.

Under the leadership of the Indonesian G20 presidency, supported by the Italian presidency and the United States, the Pandemic Fund was rapidly established and officially launched in September 2022. The Pandemic Fund aims to provide additional long-term grant financing to low and middle-income countries for critical pandemic PPR functions, aligned with the International Health Regulations (2005) and other internationally endorsed frameworks. It seeks to mobilize funding from multiple sources, promote coordination among key agencies, complement domestic investments, and serve as a platform for advocacy.

The Pandemic Fund operates through existing institutions, such as multilateral development banks, UN agencies, and other implementing entities, rather than making direct investments. It incentivizes countries to take ownership and catalyze financing from multiple sources. The Pandemic Fund is governed by a board co-chaired by Muhamad Chatib Basri, Former Minister of Finance, Indonesia, with 21 individual and constituency-based voting seats representing sovereign donors, sovereign co-investors, philanthropies, and civil society organizations.

In March, the fund issued its first Call for Proposals, focusing on comprehensive disease surveillance and early warning, laboratory systems, and building human resources and public health community workforce capacity. The call accepts proposals from eligible countries (IDA and IBRD countries) and regional entities Proposals need to demonstrate beneficiary ownership, alignment with national or regional action plans, co-financing from implementing entities, and policy commitments to pandemic PPR.

Proposals submitted to the Pandemic Fund undergo evaluation by the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), composed of 21 experts selected through a competitive process. The TAP assesses the technical soundness of each proposal and makes recommendations to the Governing Board. Co-financing and co-investment are emphasized, with financial contributions from implementing entities and beneficiary countries based on their fiscal situation and debt distress status.

The Pandemic Fund received 647 expressions of interest from over 100 eligible countries, demonstrating strong demand for support in pandemic PPR capacity building. The first call for proposals is open through May 19th. The evaluation process will take place in May and June, with the final allocation of resources by the Governing Board anticipated in July.

For more information and details on the Pandemic Fund and the Call for Proposals, interested parties are encouraged to visit the fund’s website and contact the Secretariat for further assistance.

Roundtable: Country Experiences Developing Pandemic Fund Proposals

From left to right: Dr. Soawapak Hinjoy, Dr. Aamer Ikram, Dr. Mukesh Chawala, and Dr. Adjaratou Diakhou Ndiaye

The roundtable discussion focused on country experiences in developing proposals for the Pandemic Fund’s first Call for Proposals. Moderated by Dr. Mukesh Chawla, Chief Adviser for Health Security at the World Bank, the panel included representatives from Senegal, Pakistan, and Thailand.

Dr. Soawapak Hinjoy from Thailand discussed the country’s multi-sectoral approach to developing the proposal. They emphasized the importance of collaboration and networking among various ministries and stakeholders to ensure complementarity and avoid duplication of efforts. Thailand leveraged the informal networks within their National Committee for International Health Regulations, which is a formalized multisectoral government structure, to gather information across ministries and build their proposal.

Dr. Adjaratou Diakhou Ndiaye from Senegal highlighted the process of choosing an implementing entity for their proposal. They similarly leveraged the One Health platform in Senegal, which involves key ministries and partners and sits under the Office of the Prime Minister, to map out all relevant interventions and stakeholders in country ensuring complementarity. Based upon this mapping, stakeholder contributions and identifying co-financing available from implementing entities is how Senegal decided on an implementing entity to partner for their proposal.

Dr. Aamer Ikram from Pakistan discussed the process of prioritizing activities for funding. The Pandemic Fund has already identified three key areas for this Call for Proposals: human resource development, lab diagnostics, and surveillance. Pakistan further prioritized activities within these areas based on the practical lessons learned from their COVID-19 experience and gaps identified in assessments including the Joint External Evaluation. While there are additional important areas, these three were chosen as priorities. As the current chair of the GHSA Steering Group, Dr. Ikram also highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to ensure no country is left behind and can benefit from these opportunities.

Dr. Ikram also discussed the challenge of sustaining costs in preparedness financing, particularly in LMICs. He acknowledged that during crisis times, these resources are highly valuable, but maintaining them becomes challenging during non-crisis periods. Dr. Ikram suggests that one solution is to develop a proposal and model that involves collaboration with various partners such as donors, government institutions, and organizations. They emphasize the importance of avoiding duplication of efforts and highlight the success of integrated disease surveillance and response in Pakistan, which involved multiple partners working together and eventually securing government funding. This was achieved through piloting in a province, extending it to the federal level, and then to other provinces. Eventually, the responsibility for sustaining the system was handed over to the government. Dr. Ikram emphasizes the role of the government in sustaining these initiatives and suggests that the institution should effectively communicate and engage with the government to ensure continued support. He also mentioned the need to train and retain personnel, with the expectation that future sustenance should come from the government.

Overall, the roundtable provided insights into the collaborative approaches taken and challenges faced by Senegal, Pakistan, and Thailand in developing their proposals for the Pandemic Fund. The panelists highlighted the importance of coordination, stakeholder engagement, and sustainability in addressing the ongoing and future health crises.

Roundtable: GHSA and the Pandemic Fund

From left to right: Dr. Mike Mahar, Dr. Aamer Ikram, Dr. Mukesh Chawla, and Frank Berthe

The roundtable discussion focused on the complementarity between the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the Pandemic Fund. Also moderated by Dr. Mukesh Chawla, the panel included representatives from the Pandemic Fund, Pakistan, as the 2023 GHSA Steering Group Chair, and the GHSA Accountability and Results Taskforce.

Dr. Ikram emphasized that GHSA plays a crucial role in global health security and can highlight its role by coordinating with different stakeholders. He mentioned the importance of communication and the availability of platforms like the Pandemic Fund grant to incentivize additional investments in pandemic PPR. GHSA provides a valuable platform for countries to learn from the experiences of colleagues.

Dr. Mike Mahar, representing the GHSA Accountability and Results Taskforce of GHSA, highlighted the potential for technical tools developed by GHSA to support the implementation of Pandemic Fund proposals. He shared how the Action Package Working Groups within GHSA can serve as resources for countries to address capacity gaps and develop strong proposals. These groups can provide best practices and technical expertise to increase the effectiveness of Pandemic Fund proposals.

Frank Berthe, One Health Lead on the Pandemic Fund Secretariat, emphasized the collaborative nature of the Pandemic Fund and the need to build on existing strengths and partnerships like GHSA. He mentioned the importance of co-investment and co-financing for sustainability, acknowledging that the grants provided by the Pandemic Fund are limited compared to the needs. He emphasized the ongoing partnership between sovereign donors, co-investors, philanthropies, and civil society organizations on the Governing Board.

The role of the private sector was also discussed, with Dr. Ikram highlighting the significant contribution of the private sector during the COVID-19 crisis. He emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships and the need for the private sector to invest in future preparedness and response. Collaboration with national donors was also emphasized to ensure the successful launch and sustainability of projects.

In terms of maximizing synergies and avoiding duplication, Dr. Mahar suggested leveraging the methodology and approach shared by GHSA and the Pandemic Fund. The Action Package Working Groups serve as a resource to countries, helping them identify gaps in health security capacity and providing technical resources for proposal development. He also mentioned the importance of sharing best practices and technical resources among countries to accelerate implementation.

Overall, the participants recognized the potential for collaboration between GHSA and the Pandemic Fund, emphasizing the need for coordination, leveraging technical expertise, and building on existing partnerships to enhance global health security. The roundtable concluded with a commitment to continuing discussions and working closely together.