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World Bank approves $105 mn to stem Ebola in Africa

Accra: The World Bank Group (WBG) has approved a $105-million grant to stem the Ebola virus disease in three West African countries that has claimed over 2,400 lives this year.

The grant will finance Ebola-containment efforts under way in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Xinhua reported.

It will also help families and communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis and rebuild and strengthen essential public health systems in the three worst-affected countries.

A statement received from the Ghana country office of the World Bank here, which is also responsible for Liberia and Sierra Leone, said: "The new grant is part of the $200-million Ebola emergency mobilisation first announced by the WBG (World Bank Group) in early August."

The statement said the WBG's new Ebola Emergency Response project would mobilise $52 million for Liberia, the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, $28 million for Sierra Leone, and $25 million for Guinea.

"The allocations were calculated according to the roadmap of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and assessments of the relative severity of the epidemic in each country," the statement explained.

The bank pledged its readiness to mobilise more financing for the countries since "the immediate response is still significantly under-resourced for the purposes of curbing the outbreak".

WBG President Jim Yong Kim, a doctor trained in treatment of infectious diseases, said the Ebola grant would have a long-term regional development impact, adding that "it is an important part of a coordinated international response led by the United Nations and the World Health Organisation".

"The world needs to do much, much more to respond to the Ebola crisis in these three countries," he said.

"This new World Bank grant, which will arrive soon in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, will have an immediate, positive impact on their collective Ebola containment campaigns. I would like to personally thank our board of directors for responding so quickly to this crisis," said Kim.

The bank noted in its project document for the new operation that Ebola-related restriction on people's movements "is leading to food crises in the quarantined and most affected areas where the three countries intersect".

"In the Mano river region, food insecurity is spreading rapidly. More than one million people in the region are facing a food crisis in the coming months.

"Furthermore, as the crisis continues to evolve, this threat may spread to other areas due to quarantine or other disruptions in movement of goods and people," the document said.

The WHO estimates that over 2,400 people have died in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria from the disease, with double that number having suffered from infections.

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