New Pandemic Insurance to Prevent Crises Through Early Payouts

Friday, March 27, 2015

In the wake of the Ebola crisis, a quiet revolution is taking place that is set to transform the way governments and aid agencies respond to major disease outbreaks.

Analysts are developing insurance schemes that could turn the humanitarian system on its head, by paying out money as soon as a disease breaks out to stop it becoming an international crisis, rather than trying to raise funds after the event.

The World Bank, the African Union, a consortium of aid agencies and experts in the private sector are starting to do the sums and figure out what such schemes could look like.

“This is a really exciting time. What the crisis of last year has done is to cause an upheaval in the whole of the humanitarian sector in terms of thinking of how to mitigate disasters, rather than just respond afterwards,” Gordon Woo, a catastrophist specialising in pandemics at Risk Management Solutions, said in a telephone interview.

Unlike events like earthquakes, the spread of a contagious disease rapidly pushes up the cost of halting it, the death toll and the economic damage unless swift action is taken.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) first major Ebola appeal was for $71 million in August last year, months after Guinea had reported the Ebola outbreak in March. By mid-September $1 billion was needed, the United Nations said, and the costs have risen steeply since then.

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases