August 15, 2014

President of the World Bank group, Jim Yong Kim, said Monday that the World Health Organization and the three West African countries – Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone– hardest-hit by Ebola virus epidemic have sought financial assistance from the bank.

Kim said he would brief the Bank’s board of Executive Directors as soon as possible on the latest state of the epidemic and seek their approval for the new emergency package.

Kim, who is also a medical doctor experienced in treatment of infectious diseases, said the bank plans to provide as much as $200 million in emergency funding to help contain the spread of the Ebola virus, improve public health systems throughout West Africa and help the communities cope with the economic impact of the health crisis.

The new financing, which is being provided in response to a call for immediate assistance by both the WHO and the African leaders affected by the outbreak, will go toward paying for urgently needed medical supplies, salaries for medical staff, and other vital materials to stabilize the health system, while also helping communities cope with financial hardship caused by the epidemic, said Kim.

The financial package will also assist in building up the region’s disease surveillance and laboratory networks to avert future epidemic outbreaks, the bank said.

Over the course of the Ebola virus outbreaks since February, the death toll has increased. Last week, reported death toll for the Ebola virus outbreaks was 729. Today, it is 887.

“I am very worried that many more lives are at risk unless we can stop this Ebola epidemic in its tracks,” Kim said. ”I have been monitoring its deadly impact around the clock and am deeply saddened at how it has ravaged health workers, families and communities, disrupted normal life, and has led to a breakdown of already weak health systems in the three countries.”

Kim said with the Ebola virus now directly and indirectly impacting the overall economies of these African countries and neighboring countries, the international community needs to act fast to contain and stop the Ebola outbreak. “I believe this new World Bank emergency funding will provide critically needed support for the response to stop the further transmission of Ebola within Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which would prevent new infections in neighboring at-risk countries.”

This is the first-major outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa since 1976 and has since become the largest ever in the nearly four-decade history of this disease.
Kim said the development bank will work closely with the WHO and other partners such as ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States to build up the region’s disease surveillance and laboratory networks to guard against future epidemic outbreaks.
The WHO has now set up an Ebola response center in Conakry.

“We will build up safety net protection measures for families and communities in the affected countries in light of the further hardship we expect Ebola will create for people who were already poor and vulnerable to begin with. They face the prospect of losing breadwinners and widespread disruption of their livelihoods which is why over and above containing the spread of the epidemic we also must help people in West Africa cope with its impact on their lives,” the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop said.

Copyright © 2014 THEAFRICABAZAAR online, a publication of ImeK Media, LLC. All rights reserved.