Japan has announced an additional contribution of US$30 million to the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Trust Fund Program (HEPR Program). The HEPR Program, managed by the World Bank Group, was established to help countries increase investments in health preparedness and support the COVID-19 pandemic response. As the Bank’s first and only trust fund mechanism dedicated to providing early, catalytic, and innovative financing for health emergency preparedness and response, the HEPR will help guide critical health security investments now and in years to come.
“Our additional contribution to the HEPR Program will help vulnerable countries, including in Africa, FCV and Small Island States, to build resilient societies for addressing health emergencies from multiple origins,” said Mr Kentaro Ogata, Deputy Vice Minister for International Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Japan. “For that, it is important to promote multi-sectoral Crisis Preparedness across various sectors, such as disaster risk management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental standards, food and nutrition security, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), gender empowerment, and digitalization.”
Since its establishment, the HEPR Program has supported low- and middle-income countries across the globe with their COVID-19 vaccination programs. In Togo, for example, the HEPR Program contributed to a 1600% increase in daily vaccinations. It has also helped countries with health emergency preparedness making sure that countries can break the cycle of panic—at the time of an emergency—and neglect—as soon as the emergency is over. Innovations like drone delivery and climate-friendly cold chain storage have helped to ensure that energy-efficient and climate-friendly investments are made to support more resilient health systems in the future.
“As the founding donor of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Trust Fund, we are grateful for Japan’s strong leadership in health security globally. With its help, we have provided nearly US$100 million to 27 countries and regions to prevent and respond to health emergencies,” said Juan Pablo Uribe, the World Bank’s Global Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population. “The additional US$30 million contribution will support many countries to address the triple challenge of COVID-19 response and vaccination, recovery and rebuilding essential health services after COVID-19, and improving health security for future emergencies.”
The HEPR program has also made an important contribution to financing regional programs for health emergency preparedness. The response to COVID-19 has shown that regional efforts are crucial in bringing countries together to improve coordination, increase speed of response and availability of expertise, and build interoperable resources (e.g. emergency teams in one country that can support another).