Ethiopia: World Bank increases Ebola response funding to US$500 million

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA)
-The World Bank Group will provide US$100 million extra-funding to Ebola crisis response to speed up deployment of foreign health workers to the three worst-affected countries in West Africa, the Bank said Thursday.

The new funding brings to US$500 million, the Bank's contribution to the fight against Ebola outbreak in the last three months in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

World Bank President Jim Kim, who ended a visit to Ethiopia Tuesday, pledged the Bank's funding for the deployment of 5,000 health workers to the countries affected by the disease to speed up the response and curb its spread.

“The world’s response to the Ebola crisis has increased significantly in recent weeks, but we still have a huge gap in getting enough trained health workers to the areas with the highest infection rates,” said Kim.

The World Bank boss said he believed the virus could be contained through investments in additional care for the affected and provision of potassium to improve survival rates amongst the affected. 

“We must urgently find ways to break any barriers to the deployment of more health workers. It is our hope that this US$100 million can help be a catalyst for a rapid surge of health workers to the communities in dire need," Kim added.

West African leaders have been appealing for coordinated reinforcement of international health teams to the three countries to contain the epidemic. 

The health workers are needed to treat and care for patients, boost local health capacity, manage Ebola treatment centres, and resume essential health services for non-Ebola conditions. 

UN estimates 5,000 international medical, training and support personnel are needed in the three countries to respond to the Ebola outbreak.

These include 700-1,000 health workers to treat patients in the Ebola treatment centres. The additional financing will help set up a coordination hub in close cooperation with the three countries and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Efforts to effectively respond to the outbreak are hampered by the slow recruitment of foreign health workers.

There are issues, including pay and benefits, recruitment and training, safety, transportation, housing, provision of urgent medical care and medical evacuations for infected staff, still slowing down the process.

The funding will strengthen the overall capacity of the three countries toward reaching the 70/70/60 targets established by the UN Emergency Mission set up to deal with the outbreak, (UNMEER) and WHO.

The mission is to isolate and treat 70 percent of suspected Ebola cases in West Africa and safely bury 70 percent of the dead within the next 60 days.

Earlier, the President of the Bank, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said at least 2,000 trained health workers from African countries were ready to deploy to West Africa.

In Nairobi, the UN officials were told at least 600 health workers in Kenya had volunteered to go to work in the affected nations.

“Health workers take an oath to treat the sick – and so it’s no surprise to me that many health workers want to go to treat Ebola patients at the source of this epidemic,” said Kim, an infectious disease doctor.

“So, we need to find all ways possible to remove any obstacle that stops health workers from serving – whether it is pay for workers in developing countries, or the promise of evacuation services. Health workers who treat Ebola patients are heroes, and we should treat them as such,” Kim said.

-0- PANA AO/AR 30Octo2014

30 october 2014 16:37:36

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