As the deadly Ebola virus continues to claim lives in West Africa, the World Bank has warned the epidemic could drain billions of dollars from the affected countries’ economies if it’s not contained.
Economic growth is predicted to fall, with tourism and trade badly affected by the outbreak.
Meanwhile doctors are struggling to cope with the huge number of people coming down with the disease.
At a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic in Liberia’s capital Monrovia, they are forced to turn patients away.
Coordinator Stefan Liljegren described the situation: “The most difficult spot in this place is the entry gate. Since we are full every day, we open it for an hour or two and then we are full. That means that we are blocking sick people, very sick people sometimes, to enter here. And to stand there and look in their face and say to them – ‘sorry, we cannot take you’ – and they are pleading and begging to come in. They don’t want to go home and infect the rest of their family but I simply don’t have any space for them.”
The African Union has raised $20 million so far and is sending medical teams to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The World Bank Group is mobilising a $230 million package and has so far raised $117 million which will pay for drugs, protective equipment and infection prevention and training.
The World Bank has said it needs $1 billion to effectively deal with it.