World Bank pledges emergency funds to tackle Ebola epidemic

5 Aug 14
The World Bank has pledged $200m in emergency funding to fight against the spread of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and bolster public health systems across West Africa.

By Judith Ugwumadu | 5 August 2014

The World Bank has pledged $200m in emergency funding to fight against the spread of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and bolster public health systems across West Africa. 

It is hoped that the new funds will help communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis and improve the region’s capacity to control disease more generally.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said the emergency funding would provide ‘critically needed support’ to respond and arrest further spread of Ebola into neighbouring at-risk countries. He said that the disease had led to the breakdown of already weak health systems in the three countries.

The West African Ebola epidemic started in February and has now killed 887 people.

Kim said: ‘I am very worried that many more lives are at risk unless we can stop this Ebola epidemic in its tracks. 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 further transmission of Ebola within Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which would prevent new infection in neighbouring at-risk countries.’

The new financial pledge will also help pay for urgently needed medical supplies, salaries for medical staff and other vital material needed to stabilise the health system, he added. The funds will also help build up the regions disease surveillance and laboratory networks to guard against future epidemic outbreaks.

With the Ebola virus now directly and indirectly impacting economies in Guinea, Liberia, Serra Leona and neighbouring countries, Makhtar Diop, vice president for Africa at the World Bank, noted that the funds would also include social safety net measures to help families and communities trying to cope with the financial loss as a result of the outbreak of the disease.

Financial help from the World Bank comes days after the World Health Organization and presidents of West African nations affected by the Ebola virus launched a new $100m emergency response plan.

The WHO Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Response Plan will help deploy hundreds of international aid workers, in particular doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, social mobilisation experts, logisticians and data managers, it said.

The African Development Bank has, according to reports, also promised a further $60m to help those affected by the Ebola outbreak, while the UK's Department for International Development last week spent £2m on medical support and supplies to tackle the spread of the disease.  

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