UN: World Bank says economic impact of Ebola exceeds US$500 million

New York, US (PANA) - The World Bank announced on Tuesday that economic growth estimates in the three countries most affected by the Ebola crisis have been revised sharply downward with the impact totalling well over half a billion dollars in 2014.

"Growth estimates for 2014 in the three affected countries have been revised sharply downward, with second-round effects and investor aversion. The economies of Sierra Leone and Guinea are expected to shrink in 2015, and Liberia is expected to grow at less than half the pace anticipated before the crisis," the Bank reported in a statement obtained by PANA in New York.

It stated: "The total fiscal impact of the crisis is well over half a billion dollars in 2014 alone. All the three countries had been growing rapidly in recent years, and into the first half of 2014, but projected 2014 growth in Liberia is now 2.2 per cent (versus 5.9 per cent before the crisis and 2.5 per cent in October).

"Projected 2014 growth in Sierra Leone is now 4.0 per cent (versus 11.3 per cent before the crisis and 8.0 per cent in October). Projected 2014 growth in Guinea is now 0.5 per cent (versus 4.5 per cent before the crisis and 2.4 per cent in October)."

The statement said the report, which updated the World Bank Group’s October 8 analysis of the economic effects of the crisis on the three hardest-hit countries, was issued as World Bank
Group President Jim Yong Kim, who began a visit to West Africa to assess the epidemic’s impact and discuss what steps needed to be taken to reach the goal of zero cases as soon as possible.

It quoted Mr. Kim as saying: "This report reinforces why zero Ebola cases must be our goal. While there are signs of progress, as long as the epidemic continues, the human and economic impact will only grow more devastating.

"As we accelerate the immediate health response, the international community must also do everything we can to help the affected countries back on the road to economic recovery and development."

In October, the World Bank reported that the two-year regional financial impact could range from a "low Ebola" estimate of US$3.8 billion to a "high Ebola" estimate of US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015.

The Bank added: "These estimates of the scale of impact remain valid, given that the epidemic is not yet under control."

The statement said that the World Bank Group was mobilizing nearly US$1 billion in financing for the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis.

This includes US$518 million for the epidemic response, and at least US$450 million to enable trade, investment, and employment in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has commended Spain on its diligence to end transmission of the Ebola virus.

WHO cited measures such as exhaustive tracing of both high- and low-risk contacts, daily active monitoring of all contacts, training in and monitoring of correct use of personal protective equipment for all healthcare workers caring for the patient infected with Ebola virus.

Its commendation followed Spain completing 42 days since the last person infected with Ebola had tested negative twice.

Also, WHO spokesman, Mr. Tarik Jasarevic said that a meeting on building resilient health systems in Ebola affected countries would take place on 10-11 December in Geneva.

He stated: "If this Ebola outbreak does not trigger substantial investments in health systems and adequate reforms in the worst-affected countries, pre-existing deficiencies in health systems will be exacerbated.

"For the foreseeable future, however, the negative economic impact on the affected countries means that substantial external financing will be needed to build stronger national and sub-national health systems."

Later this week at UN headquarters in New York, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is convening a special meeting on Friday, 5 December, to discuss in-depth the economic and social impact of Ebola on the affected countries, the region and the rest of the world.

The meeting, to be chaired by the President of ECOSOC, will bring together high-level representatives of UN member states, the UN system, the international organizations, civil society, health sector experts, academia and the private sector.
-0- PANA AA/MA 2Dec2014

02 december 2014 22:39:53

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