According to a news story posted at www.devex.com the World Bank insists it will do everything in its power to prevent the disease from causing “potentially catastrophic” short- and medium-term damage to the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The world’s top multilateral donor had initially pledged $200 million in August for the Ebola response, over $100 million of which for the medium- and long-term health systems strengthening in the three affected countries, “but if there is not enough money coming online to build the immediate response … we will have to … divert it and focus on the immediate response,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Wednesday.
If that is the case, Kim explained during a conference call with reporters attended by Devex, the bank’s executive board will have to go back and review its concessional loan window managed by the International Development Association — the institution’s fund for low-income countries — to review how to make sure there is still funding to build back the health systems in the affected countries.
The World Bank chief underscored how investing in dealing with the crisis now could prevent a regional economic catastrophe that could top $800 million if the response is not scaled up immediately.
“We have a choice right now; we have a choice today,” Kim said. “And that choice is if we invest everything that is needed right now, the costs going forward will be much, much less, not only in human lives — which is of course the most important to us — but in overall economic impact.”
The latest figure everyone is talking about is the World Health Organization’s most recent estimate of $1 billion — and that may just be enough, if we act now.
“We just need more people, more money, more attention, more commitment,” Kim said, adding that even if the bank’s executive board was unanimous in its decision to release the funds — a “rare occurrence” around a particular issue within the institution’s top management — others also must step up to the plate.
If donor countries, other international financial institutions and even the private sector don’t provide the resources West Africa needs at this time, the head of the World Bank revealed: “I am prepared to go back to the board and ask for more [money].”