VEB.RF Chairman on WHO Commission Advocates Efforts to Develop Digital Medical Services and Use PPPs for Health System Improvement
VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov took part in the second meeting of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development (the “Commission”), initiated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe). The meeting focused on a report of the Scientific Advisory Board on rethinking policies in the light of the pandemic and the Commission’s road map. Following the Commission’s inaugural meeting (held on 26 August) and based on information about the fight against the pandemic in the region, reputed scientists and experts suggested priorities to the Commission to change health systems and make them more effective and resilient.
The report says that despite numerous warnings about the pandemic, many countries were totally unprepared. There will be a great number of other major risks in the future. What needs to be done to ensure resilience? According to the document, health and social care systems should be reformed in order to ensure prompt crisis response, flexible redeployment of resources and revision of priorities, effective management systems, and modern information systems of disease control services.
Commenting on the conclusions and proposals contained in the report, Igor Shuvalov noted that as early as 2006, at the G8 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia proposed stimulating pharmaceutical companies to search for new vaccines. Recognising the dangers posed by viruses that originated in developing countries, the initiative suggested compensation for such investments if the countries spreading epidemics were unable to pay for vaccine research.
“I believe the Commission’s priorities should include promoting public-private partnerships and digital medical services to modernise health systems,” Igor Shuvalov said. “Without close cooperation between the private and public sectors, we won’t be able to create a truly modern system that meets the needs of all people.” He called for a thorough assessment of health system deficiencies identified in all countries during the fight against the ongoing pandemic and advocated that practical methods for health system improvement should be discussed.
The Commission’s work is to culminate in a report to be published in September 2021 and distributed to heads of state and government. The report will provide practical guidance on how to modernise and improve health systems, using the experience of fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning at the second meeting of the Commission, its working groups will develop political, economic, medical and other measures. Before the publication of the final report, the Commission will hold five more meetings to discuss the interim results of its activities.
The Commission is chaired by Mario Monti, former Prime Minister of Italy and former European Commissioner. The other members (acting in their own capacity rather than representing their governments) are reputable political and public figures and well-known researchers and experts in various fields, including Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland; Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia; Roza Otunbayeva, former President of Kyrgyzstan; and Sylvie Goulard, former Minister of Defence of France. The only Russian representative on the Commission is VEB.RF Chairman Igor Shuvalov.
VEB.RF Tells BRICS Business Forum About Its Green Finance and Responsible Business Initiatives
VEB.RF Deputy Chairman Yuriy Korsun and VEB.RF Senior Vice-President Elena Gushchina spoke at the BRICS Business Forum on 22 October to an audience of businesspeople, financiers and experts from the five member states.
Elena Gushchina, Senior Vice-President of VEB.RF, and Antonina Levashenko, Head of Russia-OECD Center RANEPA, told the audience about the two organisations’ best practices in responsible financing. They worked with other BRICS development institutions in 2020 on the Memorandum on the Principles of Responsible Financing, which is expected to be adopted at the BRICS Summit in November. According to Antonina Levashenko, the memorandum can be divided into two parts: three principles are aimed at improving the internal mechanism, whereas five principles are designed to encourage customer engagement.
Elena Gushchina noted the importance of the memorandum for promoting best practices of responsible financing in the BRICS member states, along with a need for continued joint work in this area, not only within BRICS but also across OECD countries. The OECD held an international seminar in June 2020 where the principles contained in the BRICS memorandum were first presented. Even at that time, the OECD noted that VEB.RF was a leader in creating the principles of responsible financing designed specifically for development institutions. Additionally, Barbara Bielić of the OECD noted at the forum that the memorandum was a unique document based on the organisation’s best practices. Elena Gushchina also underlined that the signing of the memorandum should be followed by more detailed recommendations on how to use its principles.
VEB.RF Deputy Chairman Yuriy Korsun told the audience about the importance of development institutions in a period of economic downturn and described VEB.RF’s achievements in setting up Russia’s national green finance system as part of responsible financing. VEB.RF released the first version of recommended guidelines on green financing in 2020, verifying a green issue of Russian Railways perpetual bonds totalling 100 billion roubles. In addition, VEB.RF integrated the methodology into its credit process and intends to provide funding for green projects at a reduced interest rate.
Representatives of BRICS leading banks also told the meeting about their practice of financing green projects and about the system for assessing projects for compliance with ESG criteria and emphasised the importance of the responsible financing initiative of BRICS development institutions. The panel discussion was attended by representatives of BRICS development institutions (VEB.RF, Banco de Desenvolvimento de Minas Gerais (BDMG), Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank), Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA)) and BRICS commercial banks.
An extremely important result of the event was that India, assuming the BRICS presidency in 2021, supported the idea of continuing work launched by VEB.RF in 2020 on the harmonisation of the responsible financing standards of BRICS development institutions.