By Olisemeka Obeche
President of the World Bank Group Dr Jim Yong Kim says the institution is committed to mobilizing enough resources to quickly contain the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and address both the health and socio-economic impacts of the crisis.
The Bank has committed $400m with about 35 countries pledging US$690m while the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank have all pledged further support towards halting the deadly virus that has killed more than 3,400 people mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, the worst affected countries with Nigeria accounting for less than a dozen fatalities.
Dr. Kim, however, notes that the Ebola crisis is “one of the most complex epidemics we have ever faced and therefore there has to be a seamless melding of expertise around the response with very strong country leadership. We welcome the strengthening of the crisis management capacity in the affected countries.”
A new economic impact assessment report released by the World Bank Group warns that failure to contain the deadly virus in record time could lead to further spread to neighbouring countries with estimated financial impact of US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015.
The Bank’s gesture came on the heels of the appeal made by Presidents of the three West African countries worst hit by the virus for increased support from the international community to halt the spread of the deadly disease and mitigate its adverse impact on their economies.
Presidents Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Alpha Condé of Guinea in separate addresses to global development leaders on the socio-economic impact of the epidemic and the global implication, yesterday morning, appealed for accelerated, better-coordinated and funded response.
Addressing the session from Freetown, Sierra Leone via satellite, President Koroma stressed the need to expedite action in the delivery of requisite support to affected countries to forestall further spread and damage to their economies. “We are very encouraged by the contributions and commitments made by our international development partners so far towards tackling this Ebola crisis. But the fact remains that urgency is required; because of the delay, it is now going to cost us more. That is why the issue now is to get to work almost immediately,” declared President Koroma.
President Sirleaf, who also spoke via satellite from Monrovia, Liberia, echoed his Sierra Leonean counterpart: “It has been three months since we have been fighting this disease and the sooner we can all come together and bring it to an end, the better so that we can all go back into the business of development.”
The Liberian leader also explained that “effective coordination around a common, unified strategy and operational plan is urgently needed to win this battle in record time.”
President Alpha Condé wants all red tapes cut. “There is urgent need to get the aid directly to the affected countries. We don’t need to multiply structures; you have to trust us as we have been able to set up the necessary structures for tackling the crisis,” he says.
“All that is now needed,” he adds, “is to strengthen our health system and we strongly believe that the leadership of the World Bank Group is in position to do that because we know that there are funds but we need to know where they are going and what they are doing.”