WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank on Monday announced up to $200 million in emergency assistance to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed hundreds in West Africa.
The funding will also help those countries improve their public health systems and cope with the epidemic’s economic impact, the Washington-based lender said in a statement. The countries’ resources and health systems have been strained by the worst outbreak of the virus since its discovery four decades ago.
Guinea’s economic growth could fall a full percentage point to 3.5 percent due to the epidemic, according to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s initial assessment.
“I have been monitoring (Ebola’s) deadly impact around the clock and am deeply saddened at how it has ravaged health workers, families and communities, disrupted normal life, and has led to a breakdown of already weak health systems in the three countries,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.
Reuters reported earlier on Monday that the World Bank and African Development Bank were among international institutions preparing funding packages to help countries deal with the crisis.
The World Bank said its money would go toward medical supplies, salaries for medical staff, and to help communities dealing with the financial hardship left by the virus.
Rural workers in the three countries hit with Ebola have fled affected areas, hitting agricultural production, though the food supply has not been affected for now, the bank said.
The epidemic has also slowed cross-border commerce and has grounded flights across the region, leading to lower revenues and financial inflows.
Mining production could also decline if more skilled expatriate workers leave the affected regions, the bank said.
The World Bank’s executive board must still approve the emergency lending. Kim said he would brief the board as soon as possible to seek their approval.
Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Jonathan Oatis