Opening Remarks for Joint IMF/WHO press conference
By Kristalina Georgieva
April 3, 2020
As prepared for delivery
Thank you Tedros for the invitation and the introduction—I am very pleased
to be with you today. The WHO has been doing indispensable work during this
The global nature of the pandemic reinforces the importance of us all
working together—people, countries and global institutions.
As the world responds to COVID-19, it might sometimes seem like there is a
trade-off to be made: either save lives or save livelihoods. In fact, this
is a false dilemma—getting the virus under control and saving lives is, if
anything, a necessity to saving livelihoods.
That is what brings the WHO and the IMF so closely together: the WHO to
help protect the health of people; and the IMF to help protect the health
of the global economy.
We work together.
And so, our joint appeal to policymakers everywhere is to
recognize that protecting public health and protecting the
economy and putting people back to work, go hand in hand. We need to do both.
As the IMF and others rush to provide financing to support countries in
desperate need, our joint plea is to place health expenditures at the top
of the priority list—get resources to doctors, nurses,
hospitals, the purchase of medical equipment, and to help the most vulnerable people. At the same time,
this must go together with support for economy-wide priorities to reduce unemployment, minimize bankruptcies
and, over time, build the recovery.
These economic measures come in addition to—and not as a substitute
We recognize that it is hard to strike the right balance, but we must
strive to do so—because that is the path to a better future for us all.
Emerging market and developing economies are particularly vulnerable
– and this is a point that I want to emphasize.
Their health systems are already fragile and now they have been hit
terribly hard economically. The IMF is giving those countries high priority.
The demand for our financing has skyrocketed. In fact, never in the 75
years history of our institution have so many countries found themselves in
need of emergency financing – 85 countries have approached us so far, all
at one time.
To accommodate this surge, we are deploying our total financial capacity of
$1 trillion. Within that, we are aiming to double the availability of our
emergency, fast-disbursing resources from $50 billion up to $100 billion –
funds that can help the emerging market and developing countries in
particular. We are also looking at ways in which we can provide additional
At the same time, we have increased our capability to ease the debt service
obligations of our poorest members through the Catastrophe Containment
Relief Trust. And together with the World Bank, we are advocating for a
standstill of debt service from the poorest countries to official bilateral
We are doing all this in record time, with the first projects already
approved and money disbursed. And as our financing reaches countries, we
are working with them to ensure that they are focused onpriorities: urgent health expenditures and urgent support for the economy.
Both underpin what is the ultimate priority: support for people.
Here, the WHO and the IMF share the same fundamental objective.
So, let me end by reiterating our joint appeal to policymakers: the global health crisis and
the health of global economy are intertwined. Let us implement policies
that protect both lives and livelihoods.
Thank you and I would be happy to take some questions….
IMF Communications Department
Phone: +1 202 623-7100Email: MEDIA@IMF.org