Jim Kim: World Bank may divert more long-term funds to fight Ebola

UNICEF delivers World Bank-funded essential supplies to Sierra Leone, one of the Ebola-hit countries in West Africa. The financial institution is willing to spend more to prevent a bigger economic catastrophe in the region. Photo by: Francis Ato Brown / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Just a day after mobilizing a $105 million grant for immediate response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the World Bank insisted in mid-September that it would do everything in its power to prevent the disease from causing “potentially catastrophic” short- and medium-term damage to the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The world’s top multilateral donor had initially pledged $200 million in August for the Ebola response, over $100 million of which was for the medium- and long-term health systems strengthening in the three affected countries, “but if there is not enough money coming online to build the immediate response … we will have to … divert it and focus on the immediate response,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Wednesday.

If that is the case, Kim explained during a conference call with reporters attended by Devex, the bank’s executive board will have to go back and review its concessional loan window managed by the International Development Association — the institution’s fund for low-income countries — to review how to make sure there is still funding to build back the health systems in the affected countries.

The World Bank chief underscored how investing in dealing with the crisis now could prevent a regional economic catastrophe that could top $800 million if the response was not scaled up immediately.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.