Australia’s role in future pandemics

At the G20 joint finance and health ministers’ meeting overnight, Health Minister Mark Butler and Treasurer Jim Chalmers committed Australia to supporting the Financial Intermediary Fund for pandemics that will be established at the World Bank. The fund is aimed at addressing gaps in national, regional, and global financing for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The ministers said in a joint statement the commitment would help ensure “we are better placed to prevent the devastating economic and health consequences that arise from a global health crisis, and limit the impact were another to occur”.Mr Butler said it was crucial Australia, and the world, learnt from the lessons brought about by Covid-19. “Few events have had greater impact than the pandemic on our way of life,” Mr Butler said. “It is critical that we implement the lessons learned from the pandemic. Through Indonesia’s leadership we have an opportunity to strengthen our collective ability to better prepare for future pandemics. “Now is the time for the G20 to show leadership and act. I am pleased that Australia is committed to supporting the Financial Intermediary Fund.”The FIF will bring together key financial and health institutions to address the risks of future pandemics to health and the global economy. Both MPs said the pandemic had highlighted the weaknesses in the global health architecture, and Covid-19 had shown the disproportionate impact pandemics could have on the most vulnerable. Dr Chalmers said the G20’s collective action was “important”. “While it has often been said that Covid-19 ‘doesn’t discriminate’, we all know our most vulnerable citizens were impacted most by both the health and economic damage of this awful virus,” Dr Chalmers said. “The G20’s collective action is important – and I urge all members and guests here today to support Indonesia’s leadership in addressing systemic financing gaps for pandemic preparedness and response.”The final contribution to the fund is to be determined but will come from the government’s existing funding for overseas development assistance. This is already accounted for in the budget bottom line. “The Australian government is committed to working with the international community to end the acute phase of this pandemic while also strengthening global health architecture to ensure all countries are better positioned to respond to the next pandemic,” Dr Chalmers and Mr Butler said in a joint statement.

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