(JollofNews) – The World Bank has approved a US$500,000 reallocation of existing development funds from on-going health and nutrition projects to support The Gambia prepare a plan in case of a possible Ebola outbreak.
While there have been no reported cases of Ebola in The Gambia, its Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, has nonetheless prepared a disease and Ebola preparedness plan.
“The Ebola epidemic in neighboring countries has affected tourism in The Gambia as people are afraid to travel to and within Africa, resulting in great economic losses for the country,” said Vera Songwe, the World Bank Country Director for The Gambia. “We acknowledge that the virus is expanding both geographically and in the number of reported cases. The spread from Guinea to Mali highlights the escalating risk to regional security, stability and economic growth.
According to Raja Bentaouet Kattan, World Bank Program Leader for Human Development, the resources disbursed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the WHO would finance information-education-communication (IEC) and social mobilization programs to raise awareness of Ebola. It will also be used to strengthening the medical response in the case of a potential outbreak through health worker training, provision of equipment, and disease detection and management resources.
The World Bank Group is mobilizing nearly $1 billion in financing for the countries hardest hit by the crisis. This includes $518 million from IDA* for the emergency response in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Through its regional bureau in Dakar, it is also working with Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Cabo Verde and Senegal to prevent the spread of Ebola to surrounding countries in the region.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.