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A better way to protect the world from the next pandemic

A better way to protect the world from the next pandemic

Sun, Jul 31st 2016, 01:00 PM

The growing concern over the Zika virus highlights a frightening reality. The world remains ill-prepared for a fast-moving virus. Over the past decade, Ebola, avian flu, swine flu and other pandemics have shown how vulnerable the world can be when major outbreaks start in a developing country with a weak health system.

But too little investment in pandemic preparedness at the local, national and global levels leave all of us, no matter where we live, vulnerable to the spread of a deadly pandemic. Pandemics are a global security threat, and they demand a truly global response. This, in fact, is about to happen. The world will now be able to automatically send money, medical teams and lifesaving supplies to any of the 77 poorest countries to prevent a major outbreak from spreading and escalating.

The newly created Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility will leverage money from wealthy countries, capital markets and the reinsurance industry, and use those funds if needed to mount a rapid early response to shut down an outbreak with pandemic potential - and at a fraction of the cost of delayed action. This facility, which will be up and running later this year, will disburse money quickly through two routes.

First, it will open up an entirely new insurance market: pandemic risk insurance. Low income countries will be covered against certain types of viruses expected to cause the majority of severe outbreaks, including Ebola. Once an outbreak meets predetermined criteria based on size, severity and speed, money will flow to the afflicted countries and international responders.

Much like with other types of insurance, a small amount of money paid up front will provide countries with a much larger amount of support when it's most needed.

Second, in the event of emerging or more unpredictable types of outbreaks for which extensive data is not yet available, such as Zika, the facility can use cash to trigger a faster response. Either way, this means we no longer will rely on inevitably sluggish - and lethally unpredictable - political deliberations or pass-the-hat fundraising appeals, which usually come too little, too late.

If this facility had existed in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we could have mobilized $100 million as early as July that year to accelerate the response. Instead, that level of funding did not begin to flow until three months later - during which Ebola cases increased tenfold - and eventually cost $10 billion and counting to U.S. and other taxpayers for emergency response, recovery efforts and economic losses to the affected countries.

In addition to filling a critical financing gap, the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility will serve as a cornerstone in building a better global system to reduce future pandemic risks.

The facility will complement the World Health Organization's new enhanced early response efforts. It will require countries to develop strong response plans, and in so doing we hope it will also encourage greater global and national investments in preparedness - including in more resilient national health systems and regional surveillance and detection networks. It will move us away from the much more costly and inefficient crisis-to-crisis management of pandemics toward a smarter, faster, better-coordinated and more effective response when needed.

There is a high probability that the world will experience a severe outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years. Recent economic analysis suggests that the annualized global cost of a moderately severe to severe pandemic is roughly $570 billion, or 0.7 percent of global income - with overall cost estimates of a single large pandemic as high as five percent of global gross domestic product, or $4 trillion.

The world has well-developed global systems to respond quickly to other security risks, ranging from disasters to economic contagion. Yet pandemics - the ultimate contagion - have been one of the greatest unmanaged and uninsured global risks in the world. Until now.

We can't change the speed of a hurricane or the magnitude of an earthquake, but we can change the trajectory of an outbreak. By having a global system at the ready to get money to the right place at the right time, we have the potential to save thousands - even millions - of lives and protect the global economy from trillions of dollars in losses.

o Jim Yong Kim is the president of the World Bank Group. This article was originally published in The Washington Post on July 1, 2016.

Minnis offers olive branch
Minnis offers olive branch

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 10:34 PM

A lost government
A lost government

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 10:26 PM

Lightbourn apologizes
Lightbourn apologizes

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 09:58 PM

DNA: Lightbourn's comments spineless

DNA: Lightbourn's comments spineless

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 07:59 PM

Several Democratic National Alliance (DNA) female candidates yesterday shot down Free National Movement (FNM) MP Richard Lightbourn's comment's about forced sterilization of mothers during a speech at the FNM convention on Thursday, as "utterly disgraceful".

While addressing delegates on the second night of the FNM national convention, the Montagu MP said The Bahamas should follow "the lead of several countries in the world which results in an unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children which would in the end result in fewer children being born".

"The state should not have the burden of paying for the upbringing of children," Lightbourn said.

"By adopting such measures, there would be [fewer] classrooms needed in the future and [fewer] persons coming out of school every year seeking employment and would also result in the mother of these children being able to live a better life not having to bring up so many children."

DNA candidate for Elizabeth Prodesta Moore, DNA candidate for Bain and Grants Town Brenda Harris, and DNA candidate for Marathon Emily Williams demanded that the MP "apologize to the women of this country" for suggesting the courts intervene with the reproductive rights of women in The Bahamas.

They added that instead of intervening in matters of which he lacks knowledge, he should instead try to help young Bahamian mothers.

"Mr. Lightbourn and the FNM should instead be creating the kind of legislation that empowers young mothers in a way that allows them to take care of themselves and their children," the DNA candidates said.

They said Lightbourn's "utterly disgraceful commentary" was "offensive" rather than the answer to classroom overcrowding and high unemployment.

They said the FNM could keep their "spineless, visionless and misogynistic" approach to governance because "Bahamian mothers want no part of the FNM's sexist and anti-feminist mentality".

"For our reproductive rights, the women of this country must stand against such backward thinking and demand more of our political leaders lest we be relegated once again to the dark ages," they said.

Lightbourn apologized for his comments yesterday afternoon.

By Jasper Ward

Man gets bail in club murder
Man gets bail in club murder

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The Caribbean needs a full response to Brexit
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Butler-Turner to stick with FNM
Butler-Turner to stick with FNM

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Fired prison guard sent to prison
Fired prison guard sent to prison

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Women's groups condemn Lightbourn's 'dangerous and archaic' comments

Women's groups condemn Lightbourn's 'dangerous and archaic' comments

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 05:52 PM

In the wake of Free National Movement (FNM) MP Richard Lightbourn's recent suggestion to sterilize unwed mothers with more than two children, two women's groups have called the suggestion "frighteningly reminiscent of the policies" used in during Jim Crow and apartheid

During the second night of the FNM's national convention on Thursday, the Montagu MP told a crowd of delegates The Bahamas should follow "the lead of several countries in the world which results in an unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children which would in the end result in fewer children being born".

Citizens for Constitutional Equality (CCE) said Lightbourn's policy recommendation was similar to those used "against black South Africans under apartheid and African Americans in Mississippi and Alabama as recently as the 1960s".

They added that the Montagu MP's proposal displays "an utter lack of understanding and awareness" of the cause of pregnancy for many women in The Bahamas.

The organization noted that many women in the country become pregnant as a result of "coercion, rape, inclusive of martial rape, incest and other forms of violations for their human rights, such as poverty".

CCE said Lightbourn's comments not only proposed "state enforced violence against women," but also brought forth "the immensity of the failure to enshrine the principle of nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in our constitution".

"The failure of the gender equality referendum now puts all citizens at risk of these types of proposals from policy makers for state violations," CCE representative said.

"It is so unfortunate that we missed this opportunity to enshrine formal gender equality within our constitution.

The June 7 referendum to enshrine gender equality, including non-discrimination based on sex, in the constitution failed overwhelmingly.

Bahamas Women's Watch (BWW) also commented on the matter.

BWW called the Montagu MP's comments an "archaic, barbaric and dangerous" proposal which should "outrightly" be rejected by everyone.

BWW representatives also recommended that instead of attributing women as the reason for social ills in the country, Lightbourn should instead "consider the unequal power relations and the exploitation of women in the inner city and the fact that many women are left to raise children and care for children on their own".

"We need for all political parties to have a more progressive agenda on women's rights, dignity and autonomy," BWW said.

"We call on those who wish to be leaders in the movement, particularly female members of Parliament, to be committed and effective public advocates for shaping the policy agenda of their political parties and implementing programs that mainstream gender equality, women's empowerment, agency, voice and participation in public and private life."

Lightbourn apologized for his remarks yesterday.

By Jasper Ward

It's a wrap
It's a wrap

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 02:00 PM

Anderson headed to UPEI
Anderson headed to UPEI

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 12:59 PM

Castrol Quote of the Day: July 30, 2016

Sat, Jul 30th 2016, 09:00 AM

UPDATED: Female MPs blast Lightbourn over shocking and despicable sterilisation speech

UPDATED: Female MPs blast Lightbourn over shocking and despicable sterilisation speech

Fri, Jul 29th 2016, 11:59 PM

Richard Lightbourn

UPDATE: This statement was released by the office of Richard Lightbourn this afternoon, with regards to his comments last night that drew fierce criticism.

“I would like to sincerely apologize to the Bahamian public and women in particular for my comments made last night at the Free National Movement convention.

“It was never my intention to offend anyone but to speak to the need for effective parenting and the support for a strong family structure which will go a long way toward solving many of our country’s social ills.

“It is a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body.

“I received immediate and justified criticism for my comments. It was an extremely poor decision on my part.

“My comments in no way shape or form reflect the position of the FNM.”

By Ava Turnquest

Tribune Chief Reporter

LEADING Progressive Liberal Party women MPs have called for the resignation of Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn over his contentious proposal for state-sponsored sterilisation of women as an anti-crime initiative.

Mr. Lightbourn's ill-fated comments were made on the second night of the Free National Movement's national convention at the Melia resort, and have since gone viral on social media with many vilifying the parliamentarian.

The FNM immediately distanced the party from the Montagu MP's proposal, stating that the party did not believe in restricting the reproductive rights of anyone.

In a joint statement issued on Friday morning, three government ministers - Yamacraw MP Melanie Griffin, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin, and Seabreeze MP Hope Strachan - branded his remarks as "despicable".

"We were shocked and disgusted to hear the offensive suggestion of Mr. Richard Lightbourn, MP for Montagu, that the State should cause for Bahamian women  to be sterilised after giving birth to two children to prohibit them from having any more children thereafter," the statement read.

"While these kinds of outrageous comments have come to typify the positionings of Mr. Lightbourn, his comments last night show  that he is unfit for public office and he should immediately apologise  to all Bahamian women. In fact, he should tender his resignation from Parliament."

It continued: "We condemn Mr. Lightbourn outrightly on behalf of every Bahamian woman."

During his convention speech, Mr. Lightbourn set out initiatives that he felt could form part of his party's crime plan if they become the next government. Making his case, he pointed out that children born in unstable family environments were high-risk to become involved in crime.

He posited that it was necessary to consider "adopting the lead of several countries in the world which result in unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children". Mr. Lightbourn said the result would be less children, essentially reducing the burden of the state in terms of social care, education, and employment.

He also suggested that an FNM government would introduce legislation that would enable a court to deduct child support from a father's pay to be paid directly to the unwed mother of his child.

Following his late-running speech on Thursday night, Mr. Lightbourn admitted to The Tribune that it had been a "poor statement", and sought to clarify his position.

He explained that he intended to use the position adopted by several countries in a bid to illustrate that the country needed "to develop a position to address the number of children born to teenage women".

The FNM's Tourchbearers Youth Association described the comments as "not only careless but insensitive".

Female candidates of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) also released a joint statement on Friday to condemn the Montagu MP and called for both him and his party to issue an apology to Bahamian women.

"The idea that sterilising Bahamian women is the answer to classroom overcrowding and high unemployment is beyond offensive," the DNA statement said.

"Rather than attempting to intervene in matters which he clearly knows nothing about, Mr. Lightbourn and the FNM should instead be creating the kind of legislation that empowers young Bahamian mothers in a way that allows them to take care of themselves and their children.

It added: "If this is truly the spineless, visionless and misogynistic approach to governance that the FNM is bringing to the table, then they can keep it! Bahamian mothers want no part of the FNM’s sexist and anti-feminist mentality."

By Ava Turnquest

Tribune Chief Reporter