African Development Bank pledges $1 million to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone
On Wednesday, September 17, 2014 the African Development Bank (AfDB) signed a three-way agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone and the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide US $1 million. This is part of an overall pledge of $4 million which the AfDB will give to the four countries affected by the Ebola virus. The money will help in the hiring and training of healthcare professionals and the purchasing of medical supplies and equipment to contain the spread of the virus.
The AfDB was one of the first organizations to lend a hand during the initial months of the epidemic. It quickly provided a $3.1 million grant to the WHO. The plan was approved on April 23, 2014, and the money has already been received by the countries. The AfDB knew that the affected countries urgently needed cash and did all it could so that the approved funds would be transferred as quickly as possible.
Donald Kaberuka, President of the AfDB Group, and Dr. Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, had already agreed on August 26, 2014 that the AfDB would provide $60 million to help strengthen public health systems in West Africa. An initial installment of $23.2 million, including $4.2 million for Sierra Leone, has already been transferred to the countries in the region. This money will have an immediate positive impact on joint efforts to stem the spread of Ebola. Moreover, by targeting countries in West Africa other than the four affected by Ebola, it will also help to rebuild and reinforce crucial public health systems as well as provide healthcare services in the region, including epidemiological monitoring and preparation. This support is essential in preventing the spread of the Ebola epidemic to neighbouring countries. The grants have been calculated according to the WHO roadmap and an assessment of the relative severity of the epidemic in each country.
To demonstrate the AfDB’s commitment and solidarity with the governments and populations of affected countries and to support them in their efforts to contain the epidemic, Donald Kaberuka visited Sierra Leone and Liberia on August 27 and 28, 2014. In his message to the Governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone during the visit, the Bank President outlined the extent to which the Ebola crisis illustrates the weakness of healthcare systems in the affected countries, stating that the scale of the challenges will not decrease once the disease has been contained. In light of these current and future challenges, the AfDB President also announced a $150 million grant in addition to the $60 million provided to WHO, in the form of budget aid aimed at increasing the budget leeway in affected countries and at reducing their budget deficit. This long-term project will also make it possible to deal with the underlying causes of the epidemic and will reinforce healthcare systems in the Mano River subregion.
The AfDB has also transferred additional resources from existing projects in Sierra Leone. For example, the outstanding sum of $1 million from a project to strengthen district healthcare services, which was concluded in December 2012, was made available to the Sierra Leone Government. This money will be used to purchase ambulances, utility vehicles, trucks and motorbikes for the screening and monitoring of contacts.
Left to right: Yero Baldeh, AfDB resident representative in Sierra Leone, and Kaifala Marah, Minister of Finances and Economic Development in Sierra Leone, at the signing of the agreement.
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