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Liberia’s acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning has underscored government’s ardent commitment to making Liberia Ebola free as the World Bank boosts the country’s effort when it approved a $52 million grant for Liberia to eradicate the deadly virus, Wednesday.
Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States Jeremiah Sulunteh signed on behalf of the government in Washington, D.C. while the Bank’s Vice President Mahktar Diop signed for the Bank. Two of the worst affected countries, Guinea and Sierra Leone were represented at the signing ceremony.
Mr. Amara Konneh who witnessed the ceremony live via video conference from the World Bank office in Congo Town, Monrovia, was elated as he thanked the World Bank for breathing fresh life in government’s unwavering commitment to fight the deadly virus which has claimed hundreds of lives in the country since the outbreak last March.
Disclosing that Liberia needs about $200 million to eradicate the virus, Minister Konneh said the new World Bank grant money would be used in three categories including support to the health system by improving various health facilities across the country, investing in the health workers who are risking their lives on a daily basis and providing food and basic services to various quarantined centers around the country.
Minister Konneh lamented that the Ebola epidemic has seriously affected the economic sector, particularly the mining and agriculture sectors. “For Liberia this epidemic is creating a lots of set-backs for our development agenda, our economy will decline by 3.5 percent this fiscal year which will affect job creation and the livelihood of our citizens,” hinted Minister Konneh.
Ambassador Sulunteh expressed gratitude to the World Bank Group for the timely help and assured the Bank that the grant will significantly change the result of the battle against the deadly Ebola disease in Liberia. “The situation in Liberia is more than a civil war, because in a civil war one can call for ceasefire and talk to various parties involved, but with Ebola there is no ceasefire.”
The World Bank Group's (WBG) Board of Executive Directors approved a US$105 million grant to finance Ebola-containment efforts underway in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, help families and communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and rebuild and strengthen essential public health systems in the three worst-affected countries to guard against future disease outbreaks.
The new grant is part of the US$200 million Ebola emergency mobilization first announced by the WBG in early August. The WBG said its new Ebola Emergency Response project mobilized US$52 million for Liberia, the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, US$28 million for Sierra Leone, and US$25 million for Guinea.
The allocations were calculated according to the World Health Organization's Roadmap and assessments of the relative severity of the epidemic in each country.
The WBG said it would almost certainly mobilize more financing for the countries since "the immediate response is still significantly under-resourced for the purposes of curbing the outbreak."
Up to 40% of the new grant, which is financed by the WB's IDA Crisis Response Window that normally helps poor countries recover from severe natural disasters or economic crises, could also be used for retroactive financing of eligible Ebola containment efforts in the three worst-affected countries.