The World Bank has announced it is boosting its efforts in assisting health workers fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in the three most-affected countries in West Africa as part of the wider United Nations Ebola crisis response.
In a press release today, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim confirmed an additional $100 million in funding to be directed towards speeding up the deployment of foreign health workers to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone – the three countries at the epicentre of the Ebola crisis. The new funding brings the Bank’s total pledges to $500 million.
According to current UN estimates, about 5,000 international medical, training and support personnel are needed in the three countries over the coming months, including 700 to 1,000 foreign health workers to treat patients in the Ebola treatment centres.
“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,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.
“We must urgently find ways to break any barriers to the deployment of more health workers,” Mr. Kim continued. “It is our hope that this $100 million can help be a catalyst for a rapid surge of health workers to the communities in dire need.”
To this date, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global total of 13,703 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria and Senegal). There have been 4,922 deaths.
The new injection of World Bank funding will fuel the Ebola response’s sprint towards reaching the 70-70-60 target established by UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and WHO with the goal of isolating and treating 70 per cent of suspected Ebola cases in West Africa and safely burying 70 per cent of the dead within the next 60 days.
In addition, it will also help set up a coordination hub in close cooperation with the all stakeholders confronting the crisis – from the governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to the UN’s frontline Ebola responders such as the WHO and UNMEER.
“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 are heroes, and we should treat them as such,” affirmed Mr. Kim.
The World Bank President added that amid the tragedy of the Ebola outbreak, there are also many lessons to be learned, noting that a key element in fighting the spread of disease such as Ebola is to ensure that countries build and maintain the appropriate systems for limiting contagion.
“Even as we focus intensely on the Ebola emergency response, we must also invest in public health infrastructure, institutions and systems to prepare for the next epidemic, which could spread much more quickly, kill even more people and potentially devastate the global economy.”