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by Anuoluwapo Adebayo
The World Bank Group on Tuesday pledged as much as US $200 million in emergency funding to help Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone contain the spread of Ebola infections.
The Emergency funding is expected to help these West African countries and their communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and improve public health systems throughout the region.
According to a statement by the World Bank Nigeria, Dr. Jim Yong Kim World Bank President said the new financing commitment was in response to a call from the three African countries hardest-hit by Ebola and the World Health Organization (WHO) for immediate assistance to contain the outbreak.
He said the World Bank Group would also step up social safety net assistance for affected communities and families and help to build up public health systems in West Africa to strengthen the region’s disease control capacity generally. Kim said he would brief the Bank Group’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.
“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 added “The international community needs to act fast to contain and stop this 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 neighbouring at-risk countries.”
The World Bank President made this announcement on the first day of the US-Africa Summit in Washington D.C, explaining that the new financial pledge would pay 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.
The new Bank Group package will also help to build up the region’s disease surveillance and laboratory networks to guard against future epidemic outbreaks.