World Bank okays $105 mn for Ebola fight in Africa

Washington (AFP) - The World Bank approved a $105 million grant Tuesday to bolster the fight to contain the deadly Ebola virus epidemic raging in west Africa.

The funding is part of a $200-million World Bank pledge approved in early August to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to contain the outbreak, which has killed more than 2,400 people in the region.

"The world needs to do much, much more to respond to the Ebola crisis in these three countries," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

The grant "will have an immediate, positive impact on their collective Ebola containment campaigns," said Kim, a physician trained in infectious diseases, referring to the recipient countries.

Liberia, the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, will receive $52 million, with Sierra Leone getting $28 million and Guinea $25 million.

The World Bank said the funding was aimed at helping people cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and strengthening public health systems to guard against future disease outbreaks.

The financing will allow governments to provide food and water in the quarantined and worst-affected areas and ferry in health workers, the Bank said.

The announcement came as the UN warned that almost $1.0 billion is needed to fight the outbreak, warning that 20,000 people could be infected by the highly fatal virus by year-end.

US President Barack Obama said earlier Tuesday that 3,000 US military personnel will be sent to west Africa to try and curb the epidemic.

The Ebola outbreak, the most severe since the virus was first identified in 1976, has killed more than 2,460 people among the 4,985 cases identified, according to the latest WHO tally.

The 188-nation World Bank said it must mobilize more financing for the countries "since the immediate response is still significantly under-resourced for the purposes of curbing the outbreak."