Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Cost of Ebola could top $32b

Published:Thursday | October 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Health workers dressed in protective gear prepare to load the body of a woman suspected to have died from the Ebola virus, in New Kru Town at the outskirt of Monrovia, Liberia, yesterday. AP

WASHINGTON (AP): EBOLA'S ECONOMIC toll could reach $32.6 billion by year's end if the disease ravaging Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone spreads across West Africa, the World Bank said on Wednesday.

The outbreak has the potential "to inflict massive economic costs" on those three countries and their closest neighbours, according to the bank's assessment.

"The international community must find ways to get past logistical roadblocks and bring in more doctors and trained medical staff, more hospital beds and more health and development support to help stop Ebola in its tracks," said Jim Yong Kim, the bank's president.

"Prudent" investment in better health systems could have lessened the economic fallout, he said.

The report estimated the costs of two scenarios:

More than $9 billion if the disease is rapidly contained in the three most severely affected countries.

$32.6 billion if it takes a long time to contain Ebola there and the disease spreads to neighbouring nations.

One way to ease the impact, the report said, would be if immediate action halted the outbreak and calmed fears. Concerns about the disease are causing neighbouring countries to close their borders, and airlines and businesses to suspend commercial activities in the three worst-affected countries.