EIB and WHO organize ‘Investing in health for all’

As the world recovers and rebuilds from the pandemic, the importance and urgency of promoting impactful, sustainable and equitable investments in health has become starkly clear.  Fulfilling this goal requires active collaboration between key global stakeholders.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have made tangible progress in advancing a joint portfolio to support health investments in low- and middle-income countries, accounting for more than €1 billion investments in support of stronger primary health care and health systems, polio eradication, cancer control and Global Gateway Fund initiatives.  The EIB and the WHO play complementary roles, with the EIB supporting investments and the WHO guiding countries on their needs and on strategic impact investments to strengthen their health systems.

The EIB has invited WHO Director-General Dr Tedros to the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg to discuss ways to strengthen collaboration between the two institutions, including the EIB’s participation in the new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response. Dr Tedros will also co-chair and open the first EIB/WHO high-level health event together with EIB President Werner Hoyer.

The two institutions have organized an online event – “Investing in health for all” – on Monday, 3 October between 13.30 and 17.00 CEST. It is now open to registration from the public at the following link: Investing in Health for All – Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)

EIB President, Werner Hoyer, said: “The pandemic has shown our global fragility: a microscopic virus has brought us to our knees.  COVID-19 must be a wake-up call.  There are no trade-offs between addressing investment gaps in health and economic development.  It’s the opposite: investing in health systems is smart investing.  While developed countries can address the errors of the past to some extent by themselves, we must increase the resources available to the developing world.  At the EIB, we are very proud of our strong cooperation with WHO to bring impactful investments to the ground globally.  I am delighted to welcome Dr Tedros in the EIB premises in Luxembourg, to discuss how we can further increase our joint impact going forward.

“Over the past two years, the WHO and the EIB have collaborated closely in implementing innovative financial approaches to strengthen primary health care in countries across Africa,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.  “The EIB’s mobilized investment during this time of more than €1 billion has helped ensure people in need can access vital health services.  We recognize, however, that continued health system strengthening, driven by sustained investment, is critical to ensure all people have access to quality, effective and affordable health services.”

Experts, policy makers, industry leaders and representatives from institutions around the world, including the WHO, the EIB, and the European Commission, will participate in the event. Three panels will explore the following topics:

  • The anatomy of resilience: lessons learnt from COVID-19 and how to build resilient health systems
  • The race against disease: investing in research and development to treat and prevent chronic diseases
  • Health without borders: cooperation is the way to cope with pandemics and spread better health systems because nobody is safe until everybody is safe

Helen Clark, Chair of the Board, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), Switzerland, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, will deliver the concluding remarks.

“Investing in health for all” takes place two weeks ahead of the World Health Summit in Berlin (16-18 October).  It will provide a timely and useful discussion on how the United Nations’ organizations, multilateral financial institutions, public and private sectors, business and academia can work together to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, of which Good Health and Well-being is Goal 3.

Investments in the health and life sciences sector are a significant area of the Bank’s operations.  In 2021 alone, the EIB mobilized over €5.4 billion in healthcare financing to support national government programs as well as research and development in areas spanning primary care networks, general hospitals and medical research, to the breakthrough vaccine against COVID-19.