News Column

World Bank Pledges U.S. $200 Million to Contain Ebola

August 5, 2014

Collins Mwai

The World Bank yesterday pledged $200 million (about Rwf 39bn) to help fight the spread of Ebola, assist communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis and improve public health systems throughout West Africa.

The emergency support will go to three West African countries; Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone that have been most affected by the virus.

In a statement, the Bank's President, Jim Yong Kim, said there was need for the international community to act fast to contain the epidemic.

He said the funding will help prevent new infections in the affected countries.

Kim said the World Bank Group would also step up social safety net assistance for affected communities and families and help build public health systems in West Africa to strengthen the region's disease control capacity.

Welcoming the funding, WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said the demands created by the outbreak outweigh the capacity of the affected countries.

The World Bank's Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, said considering that the affected countries may lose breadwinners, the funds will be used to set up safety net protection measures for families and communities in the affected countries in light of the expected hardships.

The African Development Bank has also pledged $60m in emergency funding.

Ebola surveillance systems have been stepped up by the Government at all entry points into the country and hospitals.

Last week, the Health Minister, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, said regional health experts had also stepped up joint surveillance mechanisms by timely sharing information, establishment of isolation facilities and increased public awareness to ensure the deadly hemorrhagic disease does not spread to the region.

Media reports indicated Tuesday that two US aid workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia appeared to be improving after receiving an experimental drug.

But it was not clear if the ZMapp drug, which has only been tested on monkeys, could be credited with their improvement, officials told reporters.

Dr Kent Brantly was flown home for treatment on Saturday. His colleague Nancy Writebol was also flown back to Atlanta on Tuesday.

Since February, 887 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, according to World Health Organisation statistics.

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Source: AllAfrica

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