Although the World Health Organization (WHO) terminated the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding the Ebola outbreak, the world and the countries must remain vigilant and focused on getting to and sustaining zero Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, especially with flare-ups of the disease, while helping these three countries recover and rebuild their economies and health systems.
We continue to work closely with the affected countries, the United Nations, WHO, bilateral, civil society and private sector partners to support response and recovery. This includes restoring basic health services, helping countries get all children back in school, farmers back planting in their fields, businesses back up and running, and investors back into the countries. We are helping countries reignite their economies, strengthen their health systems, and build back better.
A top priority for World Bank Group support is to build a strong and well-trained health workforce in the three countries, and build resilient health systems that can deliver essential, quality care in even the most remote areas; improve disease surveillance; and quickly detect, treat and contain future outbreaks.
The primary cost of this tragic outbreak is in human lives and suffering—but the crisis has also wiped out hard-earned development gains in the affected countries, and will worsen already entrenched poverty. On April 17, 2015, the World Bank Group issued an economic update showing the Ebola crisis continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, even as transmission rates show significant signs of slowing. The Bank Group estimates that these three countries will lose at least US$2.2 billion in forgone economic growth in 2015 as a result of the epidemic.
Other recent studies have found that the socioeconomic impacts of Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone have included job losses, smaller harvests and food insecurity, though the use of public services appears to be improving.
To ensure that the world is better prepared and respond much more quickly to future disease outbreaks, the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, and other partners, are developing a plan for a new Pandemic Emergency Facility that would enable resources to flow quickly when outbreaks occur.
The World Bank Group also has established an Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund to address the urgent and growing economic and social impact of the crisis in the region.
Where we stand now
As of Dec. 01, 2015, the World Bank Group has mobilized US$1.62 billion in financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to support the countries hardest hit by Ebola. This includes US$260 million for Guinea; US$385 million for Liberia and US$318 million for Sierra Leone. The US$1.62 billion total also includes US$1.17 billion from IDA, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries and at least US$450 million from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to enable trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
An initial $518 million commitment from IDA is helping Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone provide treatment and care, contain and prevent the spread of infections, help communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and improve public health systems. This includes:
- Paying for essential supplies and drugs, personal protective equipment and infection prevention control materials, health worker training, hazard pay and death benefits to Ebola health workers and volunteers, contact tracing, vehicles, data management equipment, door-to-door public health education outreach, and, in Liberia, psychosocial support for those affected by Ebola.
- Supporting a surge of foreign health workers to the three countries.
- Providing budget support to help the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone cope with economic impact of the outbreak, and financing the scale-up of social safety net programs for people in the three countries.
Of the initial $518 million committed through IDA, $390 million is comprised of new money provided in grants from the World Bank Group’s IDA Crisis Response Window; $110 million is from national IDA and Crisis Response Window funds for development policy operations; and $18 million was reallocated from existing health projects in the three affected countries. Of the $518 million IDA commitment, as of Dec. 1 2015, $460 million, or 89%, had been disbursed to the three countries and implementing UN agency partners
Of the at least $450 million from IFC in commercial financing that is enabling trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, $250 million is for a rapid response program, which is helping to ensure continued operations of business and supplies of essential goods and services. An additional $200 million is for an Ebola recovery program, which will finance medium- and long-term projects post-crisis. IFC is also providing advisory services to 800 small and medium enterprises on health, security and environment issues related to Ebola.