The News Minute | August 5, 2014 | 08:22 am IST
Washington, Aug 5 (IANS) The World Bank said on Monday it will provide as much as $200 million in emergency funding to help the three west African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone contain the worsening Ebola outbreak in the region.
World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said in a statement that the new financing commitment was in response to a call from two of the three African countries hardest-hit by Ebola and the World Health Organisation for immediate assistance to contain the outbreak, Xinhua reported.
"I am very worried that many more lives are at risk unless we can stop this Ebola epidemic in its tracks," Kim said. "I have been monitoring its 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."
Kim urged the international community to act fast to contain and stop this Ebola outbreak, which has killed at least 887 this year.
Kim, whose announcement came on the first day of the US-Africa Summit in Washington, said the new financial pledge would pay for urgently needed medical supplies, salaries for medical staff, and other vital materials to stabilise the health system, while also helping communities cope with financial hardship caused by the epidemic.
The money will also help to build up the region's disease surveillance and laboratory networks to guard against future epidemic outbreaks, he added.
An initial assessment for Guinea projects a full percentage point fall in economic growth from 4.5 percent to 3.5 percent, the bank said.
Also at the summit, US health officials, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, met with President of Guinea Alpha Conde, and senior officials from Liberia and Sierra Leone about the Ebola outbreak, the US State Department said in a statement.
"The group identified national and regional priorities and held intensive discussions on the types of assistance needed to mount an effective response," the State Department said. "Secretary Burwell and Director Frieden reiterated US engagement and support for efforts to control the outbreak and address the challenge."
Earlier, the US government said it will send 50 disease control experts this month to West Africa to aid in containing the outbreak.