EIB-WHO event: Investing in Health for All; Credit: EIB

On Monday 3 October 2022, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), visited the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg and met with Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB.

During their opening addresses to the Investing in Health for All (online) event, organised jointly by the EIB and WHO, and for which about 5,000 people registered and 25 speakers made addresses, President Hoyer and Director General Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the world should not give up to a “health fatigue”. The leaders highlighted the crucial need for the global community to keep investing in health despite the many other challenges that the world faces and reconfirmed their commitment to work together for a better health for all. 

The event discussed global health challenges in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to build resilient health systems to protect and promote health in the future. Both institutions called for keeping the world’s focus on investment in health to increase preparedness, cohesion and prosperity in societies, and to promote research for new solutions and innovations.  

The EIB and the WHO play complementary roles, with the EIB supporting investments and the WHO guiding countries on their needs and on strategic impact investments to strengthen their health systems.

The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen collaboration between the two institutions, including the EIB’s participation in the new Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response. 

EIB President, Werner Hoyer, said: “The pandemic has shown our global fragility: a microscopic virus has brought us to our knees. COVID-19 must be a wake-up call. There are no trade-offs between addressing investment gaps in health and economic development. It’s the opposite: investing in health systems is smart investing. While developed countries can address the errors of the past to some extent by themselves, we must increase the resources available to the developing world. At the EIB, we are very proud of our strong cooperation with WHO to bring impactful investments to the ground globally. I am delighted to welcome Dr Tedros in the EIB premises in Luxembourg, to discuss how we can further increase our joint impact going forward. "

“Over the past two years, the WHO and the EIB have collaborated closely in implementing innovative financial approaches to strengthen primary health care in countries across Africa,” said WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The EIB’s mobilised investment during this time of more than €1bn has helped ensure people in need can access vital health services. We recognise, however, that continued health system strengthening, driven by sustained investment, is critical to ensure all people have access to quality, effective and affordable health services.”

Helen Clark, Chair of the Board, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), Switzerland, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, delivered the concluding remarks.  

Dr Tedros and President Hoyer also attended an internal event with EIB staff. After a few introductory remarks, they exchanged with the participants in a Q&A session. This was the first time the EIB opened its atrium for a speech by an external guest since the beginning of the pandemic. It is highly symbolic that EIB’s first guest was a key actor of the past three years, heading the institution at the very centre of the global response to COVID-19.