AfDB pledges $60 million in grants to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa

15/08/2014
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Using m-health & governance systems, strengthening infrastructure, and training health workers

“We share the plight of the Governments of the West Africa region in fighting the Ebola Virus Disease. The African Development Bank stands ready to support all countries in the region to stop the spread of this deadly virus and strengthen health systems capabilities,” said African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit last week in Washington, DC, at a gathering of 50 African Heads of State and Government. While the Summit signaled the economic rise of Africa, it occurred at an unfortunate time when part of the continent is struggling to stop the spread of the disease. 

The scale of the outbreak is unprecedented, with reports of 1,251 confirmed cases and 689 deaths since March 2014 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

2014 EVD Outbreak

Date of Outbreak

Country

Confirmed Cases

Confirmed Deaths

March 21

Guinea

369

242

March 30

Liberia

166

149

May 25

Sierra Leone

706

295

July 20

Nigeria

10

3

Total

1,251

689

  • Source : World Health Organisation (August 13, 2014)

The spread of Ebola in Nigeria raisesfears that the epidemic could contaminate the continent's most populous nation. A nurse who treated the first Ebola victim as well an ECOWAS staff member have died of EVD in Nigeria. 

Kenya has recently been placed on high risk for transmission of the deadly virus.

International Response

On August 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Presidents of West African nations impacted by EVD met in Guinea to launch a joint US$100-million EVD response plan. 

The African Development Bank (AfDB), along with WHO and West African Health Organization (WAHO), has been a key contributor to ongoing efforts to reduce morbidity, mortality and to break the chain of transmission of EVD by strengthening sub-regional public health systems.

The Bank’s assistance will take a two-pronged approach. 

A short-term response (July-December 2014) designed to support the EVD Outbreak Response Plan of West Africa consists of: 

  • A grant of US$3.1 million to WHO to prevent and contain the spread of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This ADF grant was approved on April 23, 2014 to contribute to ongoing efforts. The Bank is also preparing country specific responses to award a grant of US $1 million each to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria to address short-term needs. 

A long-term response (2014-2016) consisting of:

  • A US$60-million multinational response to strengthen health systems and regional institutions in the West Africa region. Using various financing instruments including the AfDB’s Regional Public Good Facility, the Fragile States Facility and its current project portfolio in West African countries, the project will benefit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Togo, Benin, Mali, Senegal, Gambia and Cape Verde. This three-year project will be articulated around three focus areas: 
  1. Building human resource capacity and systems for epidemic preparedness and response. This includes the urgent recruitment and training of skilled professionals equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), procurement of supplies and detection equipment for border post and other logistics.
  2. Developing infrastructure. This includes deployment of emergency alert and response systems (m-health, mobile networks) to boost active surveillance and control in frontline services for timely management of current and future outbreaks (civil unrest, health and natural disasters), rehabilitation of isolation facilities, strengthened laboratory capacity and waste management practices and purchase of incinerators.
  3. Strengthening governance and regional institutions. This will include building governments’ capacity to use public resources in a transparent and accountable manner and development of a comprehensive communications campaign and civil society/community response to the epidemic.

Background

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often fatal illness in humans with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. EVD first appeared in 1978 in Nzara (Sudan) and Yamkulu (Democratic Republic of Congo). In DRC, the affected villages were situated near the Ebola River which lent its name to the disease. 

There is as yet no licensed specific treatment or vaccine available. The Ministry of Health of Guinea first notified the WHO on the outbreak of the epidemic on March 13, 2014. Since then it has spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. At the beginning of the outbreak, this event was graded at Level 2. Based on the ongoing severity, the Director General of the WHO on July 24, 2014 re-graded the outbreak to level three, the highest possible level. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) of Nigeria reported its first case of EVD on July 27, 2014. In an effort to rapidly prevent the further spread of EVD in West Africa, the WHO convened as special ministerial meeting on the outbreak in Accra on July 2-3, 2014. Ministers of Health and senior health officials from 11 African countries , donors, survivors, representatives of airlines and mining companies were brought together to obtain consensus from member states and partners on the optimal way to interrupt ongoing EVD transmission in West African in order to reduce the human, social and economic impact of the current outbreak and any future EVD outbreaks. The outcome of the meeting was the Strategy for Accelerated Response to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa.

The Governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the WHO are urgently requesting financial support of US$100 million to implement the Ebola Outbreak Response Plans and priority preparedness activities for the period of six months to accelerate the response in the region. This plan is based on a vision of empowering both affected countries and the WHO to engage with national and international stakeholders on the ground. The plan will ensure coordination among all actors and the delivery of effective support to the affected countries and countries at risk. With an outbreak of this nature and magnitude no organization could meaningfully work and make impact on its own. Furthermore, to ensure sustainability and to enable countries to deal with similar outbreaks in the future, a health system-building approach is required.