Health

March meeting to plan rebuilding of Ebola-hit states

Governments and international organizations plan to meet in March to work out how to rebuild three West African nations whose economies have been shattered by Ebola, a U.N. envoy said on Thursday.

The number of newly detected cases of Ebola virus infection has been dropping sharply in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in recent weeks. But the three countries are still reeling from the impact of the outbreak.

The World Bank in January projected they would lose $1.6 billion in income this year, over 12 percent of their combined economic output. Pre-Ebola economic growth forecasts have been slashed.

“The plans at the moment are for a conference to look at the needs of reconstruction organized by the countries themselves, by the United Nations, by the African Union and by the European Union,” said David Nabarro, the U.N. special envoy on Ebola.

He told Reuters on the sidelines of an African Union summit meeting in Addis Ababa the gathering was expected to be on March 3 in Brussels.

“By that time we anticipate to start to have estimates for what the whole recovery and revival will cost,” he said.

Although the number of Ebola infections detected is clearly falling, “the one challenge we have when this sort of situation happens in an outbreak is that to actually get to zero cases is the hardest part,” Nabarro said.

He said the United Nations needed $1.5 billion to finance its response to the crisis in 2015, with about $500 million covered so far. “We will need more for the response, but also there will be funding needed for reconstruction,” he said.

Reuters.

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