ASEAN Expands Covid-19 Fund to Prep against Future Pandemics
Jakarta. ASEAN is expanding its remaining Covid-19 response fund to better prepare against future pandemics.
The years-long Covid-19 pandemic taught ASEAN an important lesson of the need to strengthen health resilience. When Covid-19 struck ASEAN, the bloc launched a response fund to keep the coronavirus transmission under control. ASEAN member states could use the pool of money to procure medical supplies and equipment such as diagnostic tools and vaccines.
The fund under the Covid-19 response came from the ASEAN Development Fund -- a separate pool of money -- as well as other cooperation mechanisms, including the ASEAN Plus Three which encompassed the 10 member states and East Asian nations: China, Japan, and South Korea.
ASEAN’s chair Indonesia on Thursday hosted the group’s finance and health ministers’ meeting. According to Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the Covid-19 response fund initially raised $17.7 million, but the bloc has used a tranche of the money to procure vaccines.
“We discussed how we should expand the existing funds to not only address Covid-19 but also future pandemics,” Budi told reporters after the ministerial dialogue in Jakarta.
Budi did not go into details about how much money was left from ASEAN’s Covid-19 response funds. Although Indonesia’s Fiscal Policy Agency head Febrio Kacaribu told the press separately that there was still around $10 million remaining.
According to Budi, the Southeast Asian bloc is seeking to consolidate the existing funds with other types of funding. This includes the pandemic fund that was launched during Indonesia’s G20 Presidency last November.
“We have agreed to establish and consolidate the existing funds in the health sector in the ASEAN region to be a single, one healthcare fund. It can combine, integrate, and synchronize all types of funding and modalities, be it from the public or private sector, or philanthropists. Be it a national, regional or global funding scheme,” Budi said.
G20 host Indonesia last year hosted the launch of the $1.4 billion fund aimed at tackling future pandemics. As of Feb. 2023, the financial pledges had topped $1.6 billion from 25 donors.
The Pandemic Fund's governing board recently approved the first round of funding allocations for 37 countries, including Zambia and Yemen. Indonesia submitted its proposal for the pandemic fund but did not make it to the short list of the first-round beneficiaries.