WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group should work closely together to contain the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure fair and efficient distribution of vaccines across all countries, the institutions’ Development Committee said on Friday.
“Timely delivery of safe and effective vaccines across all countries is critical to ending the pandemic, especially as new variants emerge,” the joint ministerial committee of the World Bank and the IMF said in a communique following a virtual meeting.
“Developing countries need to strengthen their readiness for vaccination campaigns and develop coordinated strategies to reach vulnerable populations,” the communique said.
The committee welcomed the World Bank’s partnerships with international institutions and private manufacturers to help ensure that developing countries have “fast, transparent, affordable, and equitable access to vaccines.”
“The pandemic has triggered far-reaching consequences, and we must strengthen global preparedness for future pandemics, and at the same time make progress in building robust health systems with universal coverage,” the communique said.
The committee also urged the World Bank and the IMF to help countries design and implement policies to “address the root causes of excessive and unsustainable debt.”
“We ask the Bank and the IMF to identify lessons learned and continue working closely with other organisations and policymakers to address the debt challenges facing middle-income countries, on a case-by-case basis,” the committee said.
The committee also welcomed advancing the International Development Association’s twentieth replenishment (IDA20) to help fight the pandemic and reduce global poverty.
“An ambitious and successful IDA replenishment by December 2021, underpinned by a strong policy framework, will support a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery in IDA countries as they address both the immediate and longer-term impacts of the pandemic,” the committee said.
IDA is one of the largest sources of funding for fighting extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. Replenishment discussions and negotiations for IDA20 will run from April to December 2021.
World Bank Group President David Malpass said at the meeting that the Development Committee plays an essential and unique role in the international cooperation architecture.
“It is the only forum in which the governments of developed countries and developing countries, creditor countries and borrower countries, come together with a primary focus on development and resource needs for developing countries,” he said.
Malpass also said that the last year has made even clearer the challenges and staggering needs, noting the current international financial architecture is “heavily skewed in favour of the rich and creditor countries.”
“It is ever important that all voices are heard. I urge all of us to consider how we can restore growth in developing countries and help reverse the growing inequality, in terms of access to vaccinations, unsustainable debt, and adverse climate impacts,” he said.