The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the importance of health emergency preparedness. While that understanding is undisputed, countries face a myriad of challenges in turning it into reality
These challenges take many forms, ranging from the conceptual (e.g., what constitutes health emergency preparedness versus what constitutes more generalized health system strengthening) to the operational (e.g., how to build effective and well-prioritized health emergency preparedness components into broader health planning efforts and particularly into primary health care (PHC) systems). Moreover, these efforts must not be conducted in isolation, but instead must be designed and implemented in concert with related agendas in health systems as well as in crisis preparedness and response efforts.
Building on the COVID-19 pandemic experience, health emergency preparedness and pandemic preparedness are currently areas of significant focus in countries and in global and regional coordinating bodies. At the country level, decision-makers are struggling with how to address this critical need while also attending to other health imperatives such as improving PHC and strengthening health systems overall to advance universal health coverage (UHC) under the ambit of creating resilient health systems that can provide the full range of routine and emergency health services. The World Bank has also been addressing these challenges, as manifested in the Bank’s multifaceted preparedness agenda and its secretariat role in the Pandemic Fund.
(i) A focus within IDA20 through policy commitments focusing on crisis preparedness, pandemic preparedness, and One Health;
(ii) IBRD financing for health emergency and crisis preparedness
(iii) The newly-announced Bank-wide Health Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program [launch date: Jan. 11]
(i) Better understand what health emergency preparedness entails, their country’s status/readiness in terms of preparedness, and how to operationalize it within their health system contexts
(ii) Make good use of the dual-purpose nature of investments in the health sector that support routine and emergency service delivery at primary care and tertiary care levels.
(iii) Raise domestic and international resources to finance efforts to improve resilience and preparedness for the next pandemic
(iv) Implement health emergency preparedness and health system resiliency efforts within the context of strengthening health system efforts, writ large
(v) Figure out which essential public health functions to embed at primary care levels.
The Health Emergency Preparedness Collaborative is a peer-to-peer learning community dedicated to practical, implementation-focused solutions for the persisting challenges faced by low and middle-income countries. The collaborative brings together practitioners from 17 countries;