WASHINGTON, June 29, 2016—Sierra Leone will benefit from a US$30 million credit approved yesterday by the World Bank to strengthen health systems and disease surveillance systems in West Africa. The US$30 million investment in Sierra Leone is part of an initial US$110 million regional investment under the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Program (REDISSE), which aims to address systemic weaknesses within the human and animal health sectors that hinder effective disease surveillance and response. The REDISSE program was developed with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and technical support from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recent Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in West Africa illustrated the critical importance of strengthening national disease surveillance systems and inter-country collaboration to detect and respond to outbreaks of communicable diseases before they become deadly epidemics that cross borders to kill thousands of people and cripple economies.
Sierra Leone and Guinea, two of the countries most affected by the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, will each receive US$30 million in financing. Senegal, which has shown regional leadership in developing effective disease detection and response capacity, will receive US$30 million. In addition, the West African Health Organization (WAHO) will receive US$20 million from IDA and US$4 million in trust fund co-financing from the government of Canada to help improve disease surveillance infrastructure, information sharing and collaboration across the 15 countries that comprise the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and across the health, agriculture and environmental sectors.
The REDISSE Program will be implemented as an interdependent series of projects that will eventually engage and support all 15 countries in the ECOWAS region. The first in the series of projects, REDISSE I, approved yesterday for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Senegal, aims to strengthen national and regional cross-sectoral capacity for collaborative disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness. It also includes a contingent emergency response component to improve a government’s response capacity in the event of an emergency. The next in the series of projects is under preparation and is expected to be submitted to the Board of Executive Directors in 2016.
“The project will support Sierra Leone and the other countries’ efforts to harmonize policies and procedures. Countries will be empowered to engage in joint planning, implementation and evaluation of program activities across borders at regional, national and district levels,” said Parminder Brar, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone. “The project will support the strengthening of national health information systems to collect and report quality data.”
To complement the REDISSE Program’s contribution to enhanced disease surveillance strengthening, the World Bank Group also recently launched the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, an innovative, fast-disbursing global financing mechanism designed to protect the world against deadly pandemics, which will create the first-ever insurance market for pandemic risk.
The REDISSE Program is part of the $1.62 billion in financing that the World Bank Group has mobilized to address the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic. Previous financing has focused on response and recovery efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries hardest hit by Ebola. This support includes $1.17 billion from IDA, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, to 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. It also includes at least $450 million from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to enable trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The REDISSE Program is part of the longer term response to the epidemic and moves beyond both Ebola Virus Disease and the borders of the three most affected countries to help build a resilient, broad-based regional disease surveillance and response system, based on intercountry collaboration and collective action. Communicable and non-communicable diseases are a major constraint on the health, education and potential earnings of people living in the ECOWAS region and have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable people.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.