(Corrects spelling of IFC chief operating officer’s name)
WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - The World Bank Group’s private-sector arm said on Wednesday it is launching a $4 billion financing platform aimed at boosting the production and supply of critical health care products in developing countries to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Finance Corp’s initiative is largely aimed at private-sector projects to manufacture products such as personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical equipment, coronavirus test kits, therapeutic drugs and vaccines.
IFC is contributing $2 billion in internal resources with plans for another $2 billion to come from private-sector partners.
The group also intends to work with other international finance institutions to leverage additional funds, IFC Chief Operating Officer Stephanie von Friedeburg told Reuters in an interview.
She added that IFC also is working with the GAVI global vaccine alliance to identify and finance projects that can boost COVID-19 vaccine production in developing countries.
The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide demand for critical healthcare products, including masks and ventilators, now exceeds supply by more than $60 billion annually.
Initial products financed by the IFC platform will be focused on immediate supply needs, but longer term, the platform aims to finance projects that will build up developing country health care systems, von Friedeburg said.
“We have to expand the capacity of services as well as supplies to make a more resilient future,” von Friedeburg said.
Because some more sophisticated equipment, such as ventilators, are built largely in developed countries, the initiative also allows up to 30% of the financing to go to projects in developed countries, with commitments to supply developing countries.
Von Friedeburg said there would be “an exceptionally high bar” for such projects in wealthier countries and they would have to prove that they are meeting immediate supply needs. (Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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