Ebola related economic impact could grow eight-fold: World Bank

by Trust Matsilele 0

The World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said impending economic collapse could be halted if efforts to stop the epidemic are successful.

“The primary cost of this tragic outbreak is in human lives and suffering, which has already been terribly difficult to bear. But our findings make clear that the sooner we get an adequate containment response and decrease the level of fear and uncertainty, the faster we can blunt Ebola’s economic impact,” Kim said.

“We have seen in recent days a serious scaling up on the part of international donors to contain the Ebola epidemic. Today’s report underscores the huge potential costs of the epidemic if we don’t ramp up our efforts to stop it now,” said Kim.

(READ MORE: World Bank to help Ebola-stricken families cope with economic burden)

According to the group analysis, the short-term impact on output to be 2.1 percentage points of GDP in Guinea (reducing growth from 4.5 per cent to 2.4 per cent), 3.4 percentage points in Liberia (reducing growth from 5.9 per cent to 2.5 per cent) and 3.3 percentage points in Sierra Leone (reducing growth from 11.3 per cent to 8 per cent).

“This forgone output corresponds to 359 million US dollars in 2014 prices.  However, if Ebola is not contained, these estimates rise to 809 million US dollars in the three countries alone,” says The Bank.

In Liberia, the hardest hit country, the High Ebola scenario sees output hit 11.7 percentage points in 2015 (reducing growth from 6.8 percent to -4.9 per cent).

(READ MORE: World Bank sets emergency fund to curb Ebola)

The group analysis also said short-term fiscal impacts are also large, at 93 million US dollars for Liberia (4.7 per cent of GDP), 79 million US dollars for Sierra Leone (1.8 per cent of GDP) and 120 million US dollars for Guinea (1.8 per cent of GDP).

The findings said, slow containment gaps would almost certainly lead to even greater financing gaps in 2015, the analysis finds.

The Bank urged intervention in four key strategic areas such as humanitarian support, fiscal support, screening facilities at airports and seaports and also strengthening the surveillance, detection, and treatment capacity of African health systems.

Meanwhile, the Bank has already indicated that it might be forced to divert some funding for other activities towards Ebola response.