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Sierra Leone bags US$25m World Bank Ebola grant

SEPTEMBER 17, 2014

The World Bank announced yesterday thatitsBoard of Executive Directors had approved a grant of US$105 million to finance Ebola-containment efforts underway in the three Mano River Union (MRU) Countries – Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone – currently grappling with containing the deadliest Ebola outbreak to date.

More than 2,000 persons have died of Ebola in the three countries since March when the index case was confirmed in Guinea. The virus has since spread into Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal, with the three MRU countries worst affected.

According to the Bank, it is envisaged that the grant, which is part of the US$200 million Ebola emergency mobilization first announced in early August, would “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 to guard against future disease outbreaks.”

The release states that, “the new Ebola Emergency Response project will mobilize US$52 million for Liberia, the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, US$28 million for Sierra Leone, and US$25 million for Guinea.”

Apparently, the allocations were calculated in accordance with the World Health Organization’s Roadmap and assessments of the relative severity of the epidemic in each of the three countries, while acknowledging that more funds were needed to finance a comprehensive response to curbing the outbreak, which it said was “significantly under-resourced”.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said a coordinated international response, led by the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO), was needed to scale-up efforts to defeat the outbreak.

“The world needs to do much, much more to respond to the Ebola crisis in these three countries. 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 Dr Kim

In its project document for the new operation, the World Bank notes that Ebola-related restrictions 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 1 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.”

Up to 40% of the new grant, which is financed by the World Bank’s the International Development Association(IDA) Crisis Response Window that normally helps poor countries recover from severe natural disasters or economic crises could be used for retroactive financing of eligible Ebola containment efforts in the three worst-affected countries, the release says.

The Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, commended the efforts of health professionals in the three countries for their tremendous sacrifices even in the face of logistical and other challenges, as well the commitment shown by the respective governments to eradicate the disease.

“I cannot praise the dedication and sacrifice enough of the health workers who form the backbone of the Ebola containment efforts in West Africa. This new WBG operation will provide them with the protective clothing and other medical equipment to keep them safe from the Ebola infection and will allow them to focus with more peace of mind on their frontline duty of delivering care and treatment to their patients.

“I  also want to acknowledge the tireless work of the three governments in trying their best to contain this epidemic which as we know is the largest and most persistent Ebola outbreak anywhere in Africa since it was first discovered in 1976,said the Senegalese born Diop.

According to him, the new project will finance: “Hazard/indemnity pay to health personnel, including volunteers, who work in emergency treatment centers and referral centers; in-country medical care to exposed health workers; death benefits to families of exposed health workers; recruitment, training, and deployment of expatriate medical doctors, nurses and other medical and paramedical personnel.”

The release further says that the new project would improve access to food and other basic supplies for Ebola-affected households in the quarantined areas and other “hot zones” in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The initial component of the project is envisaged to help at least 395,000 people affected by Ebola in quarantined areas and other “hot zones, while the project would ensure food and safe drinking water are available “to prevent rapid deterioration of the worst-affected population’s food security and nutritional status.”

Meanwhile, the country office of the Bank will today sign the US$28 million Ebola response project with the government of Sierra Leone. A source told Concord Times last night that President Koroma is expected to make a statement at the signing ceremony, while the vice president of the Bank will connect from Washington to hold an interactive session with the audience.