DISEASE

Development banks send emergency loans to African countries hit by Ebola

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 10:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2014, 3:03am

International development banks have committed US$260 million in emergency loans for three West African countries hit by the deadly Ebola virus as nearly 50 African leaders gathered in Washington for a US-hosted summit on the region.

The World Bank said it would provide as much as US$200 million in emergency funding to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"I am very worried that many more lives are at risk unless we can stop this Ebola epidemic in its tracks," World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. "The international community needs to act fast to contain and stop this Ebola outbreak," he added.

African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka said that his bank would immediately disburse funds to the three countries, whose health systems have been strained by the outbreak. Bank officials said the funding was close to US$60 million.

The funding is in response to a US$100 million plan launched by the World Health Organisation last week to tackle the epidemic. WHO chief Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun said on Friday that Ebola was outpacing efforts to contain it and warned of "catastrophic" consequences if the situation deteriorated.

The United States will also provide more help to the affected countries and to international agencies responding to the outbreak, providing equipment and technical expertise, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Separately, the Pentagon on Monday said a small US military team was in Liberia, where they helped set up a diagnostic laboratory related to the disease and provided protective equipment and test kits. A similar centre was also established in Sierra Leone, the Pentagon said.