WHO receives US $60 million grant from AfDB to tackle Ebola outbreak
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, August 26, 2014 – The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa has received a $60-million grant by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support on-going efforts to stop the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
At a signing ceremony in Abidjan, Dr Luis Sambo, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, expressed gratitude to the President and the Board of the AfDB for responding rapidly to support the outbreak response. He said: “The ongoing Ebola Virus Disease outbreak is a bitter reminder to all African Gov-ernments and partners on the need to strengthen health infrastructure capacities in order to prevent, mitigate and manage disasters and epidemics wherever they occur. This agreement will cover the im-mediate response needs as well as help to strengthen the health systems capacity.”
The Regional Director observed that critical challenges remain and include: inadequate community participation; weak health infrastructure; insufficient treatment facilities in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; and increased infections among health workers. He pointed out that the emerging problem of the air travel ban is negatively affecting the response capacity in affected countries; as it affects timely deployment of international staff and much needed supplies.
“We hope that this issue is addressed both rapidly and collectively in order to bring the urgently need-ed relief to affected communities. The economic effect of this epidemic is also negatively surfacing and needs to be mitigated,” he added.
The ongoing Ebola outbreak is the largest and deadliest Ebola epidemic historically in terms of number of cases, deaths and geographical spread. The outbreak originated in Guinea in March 2014 and has to date affected Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Following a ministerial meeting in Accra last July, a response strategy and subsequently US $103-million Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Response Operational Plan was launched by WHO as part of an intensified international, regional and national campaign to bring the outbreak under control. The plan identifies the need for more personnel to be deployed to affected countries to supplement over-stretched treatment facilities. The greatest needs are clinical doctors and nurses, social mobilization and communication experts, and logisticians. The plan also outlines the need to increase preparedness and early warning systems in unaffected countries of the region.
“The Ebola crisis has shown the weakness of our health systems. This $60 million project will be used to hire skilled professionals, equip health centers and strengthen institutional capacity to manage the epidemic”, said Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank.
The grant reinforces AfDB’s Human Capital Strategy (2014-2018) as well as its Regional Integration Strategy for West Africa to strengthen and build the capacity of health workers to respond to the EVD. This grant will also support health research among African and international networks of exper-tise, and strengthen institutional capacities to control the current and future potential outbreaks.
The Minister of Health of Côte d’Ivoire, Raymonde Goudou Coffie underscored the need for vigilance during this outbreak. “We are thankful that there are no cases in Côte d’Ivoire. However, we need to be aware that the country is at high risk. We have taken – and will take – every precaution”.
Since the start of the outbreak, AfDB has provided financial support through WHO which has been utilized to deploy more than 450 people to the affected areas and allowed for the provision of logistic and material support to the four affected countries – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria .
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