JEDDAH: Ahmad Mohamed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), joined world leaders yesterday at the United Nations headquarters in New York to urge global solidarity in fight against polio.
IDB announced it is developing a $ 227 million financing package for the government of Pakistan. This will fully fund Pakistan’s polio eradication activities through 2015. IDB is also considering providing a grant to Afghanistan’s polio program. Pakistan and Afghanistan, along with Nigeria, are the only remaining polio-endemic countries, and all are IDB members.
The funding of Pakistan’s program will be presented for approval to the bank’s Board of Executive Directors before the end of the year.
“We are developing a new mode of financing with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will become a landmark in our commitment to fight global diseases such as polio,” said Ali at the UN event. “It is a major innovation and a new model of partnership with nontraditional donors.”
Under the proposed arrangement, Pakistan will repay the principal amount to the bank while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide support for the administrative costs associated with the financing package. The novel partnership between IDB and the Gates Foundation will allow the organizations’ collective resources to go much further.
The world is more than 99 percent on the way to eradicating polio. Globally, this year there have been 145 new polio cases reported through Sept. 18, compared to 400 cases at this time last year. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has implemented an emergency action plan approved by the May 2012 World Health Assembly, and affected countries are working more effectively against the disease.
“Global institutions have a special responsibility to join together and support this effort until the fight against polio is won,” continued Ali. “The bank will do its part. All development partners should seize this opportunity for a polio-free world.”
IDB’s commitment to polio aligns with its broader leadership in developing innovative modes of Islamic finance. The bank’s Islamic operating model and its strong international reputation allow it to mobilize resources from investors and nontraditional donors looking for ways to support global development that are also compliant with Islamic financing principles.
The bank uses these resources to address major global challenges such as health, illiteracy, hunger and poverty. The polio financing for Pakistan, for example, provides a new model of partnership that enables multilateral financing and philanthropic resources to be pooled more quickly and effectively than ever before, while reducing costs for countries that commit to tackle global diseases.
IDB is exploring similar mechanisms of innovative finance for areas beyond polio and health, such as agricultural development, in partnership with member countries, other multilateral banks and additional partners.
The high-level event at the United Nations featured heads of state from each of the three remaining polio-endemic countries, as well as major donors and partners.