US, Indonesia call for new G20 forum to prepare for next pandemic

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen attends the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, USA on September 30, 2021. Al Drago / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct.26 (Reuters) – The world’s largest economies are set to create a forum to facilitate global coordination for the next pandemic, as well as a new funding facility to deal with emerging threats, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Tuesday.

In a letter to their G20 colleagues, the two finance ministers said the forum would allow health and finance ministers to better cooperate and coordinate prevention, detection, information sharing and any necessary response.

A copy of the letter, dated Monday, was posted by the Treasury Department on Tuesday.

Yellen and Indrawati said the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 5.2 million people worldwide, revealed a lack of preparedness at the country level and a lack of coordination among G20 countries.

“As we move forward in the fight against COVID-19, we also face a stark reality: this will not be the last pandemic,” they wrote ahead of the joint meeting of G20 health and finance ministers , Friday. “We must not lose this opportunity to show leadership with a decisive commitment to act.”

Several independent organizations, including the High Level Independent Group led by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Singaporean Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, have called for the creation of ‘such a forum,

Yellen and Indrawati said the forum will elevate and strengthen the work of the World Health Organization and other technical entities, but should include diverse voices and perspectives from around the world, such as the African Union.

They said a new financing facility could complement the resources of multilateral development banks and ensure sufficient and reliable financing so that immunization and treatment can cope with emerging threats.

Although the two initiatives are complementary, their timetables need not be linked, the ministers said.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Leslie Adler

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