The World Bank is offering an additional $650 million to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recover from the devastating Ebola epidemic.

Before Ebola these nations had some of the highest economic growth rates in Africa, but the crisis closed markets, crimped trade, and forced schools and businesses to close. This brought sharp cuts in the growth needed to fund the improved health care systems, infrastructure, education and other things needed to fight the disease and rebuild the economy.

Friday in Washington, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the new money brings the bank’s aid to these West African nations to more than $1.6 billion. Kim says as long as one case of this virus remains, it is a threat to these countries — and the world.

“The epidemic is not over. So the world must not let up on efforts to get to zero Ebola cases in all three countries,” he said. “For as long as one case of this deadly virus remains, the countries, the region and the world will remain at risk.”

The number of Ebola cases has been cut drastically, and efforts are now underway to track down the last few cases and stop any new flare up of the deadly disease.

In a World Bank meeting, the presidents of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone thanked international organizations and other nations for sending millions of dollars and thousands of people to help fight the epidemic.

But Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said it will take even more hard work to get to zero Ebola cases, and that is just the start to reviving the economies of these battered nations.

“The road to zero [Ebola cases] could be bumpy and has always been bumpy,” he said. “We urge that we remain coordinated in our drawdown plans. Secondly, we have to start the road to recovery. As indicated in the presentation, our economies have been badly affected, our social activity is down, and it is a long way to recovery.”

New World Bank data shows these three relatively small nations have lost $2.2 billion in economic activity. They have been badly hurt by the Ebola epidemic as well as falling prices for their commodity exports. The bank’s experts say Liberia is gradually returning to normalcy, Guinea’s economy is stagnating, and Sierra Leone is suffering a severe recession.


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