World Bank: Ebola Will Have 'Catastrophic' Economic Impact

World Bank: Ebola Will Have 'Catastrophic' Economic Impact

The World Bank has issued a report warning against a “catastrophic” economic impact on the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone’s already fragile economies if they do not put a stop to the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. 

Two different scenarios were reportedly analyzed by the World Bank to calculate the estimated $809 million in damages the three nations would suffer by the end of 2015, according to a report the World Bank published on Wednesday:

A “Low Ebola” scenario envisions rapid containment within the three core countries, while “High Ebola” corresponds to the upper ranges of current epidemiological estimates.

The World Bank also cited “aversion behaviors driven by fear of contagion,” including the tendency for people to drop out of the work force to seek refuge from the deadly hemorrhagic (or bleeding out) virus reportedly were also part of the calculated costs. These individuals ditching employment were cited as in great part fueling the damaging economic impact said “fear factor” would have over the population.

Speaking on behalf of the World Bank Group, President Jim Yong Kim noted that while “the primary cost of this tragic outbreak is in human lives and suffering,” the widespread economic impact the disease would have could be equally, if not more, crippling. “Today’s report underscores the huge potential costs of the epidemic if we don’t ramp up our efforts to stop it now,” Kim said. 

An Ebola expert reportedly predicted this week that close to 5 million people could die as a result of the virus. The prediction came around the same time President Barack Obama announced that the United States would be deploying 3,000 U.S. military forces and over $500 million in aid to West Africa in order to thwart the spread of the Ebola outbreak. 

An excerpt from the World Bank’s report reads: “External financing is clearly needed in the three core countries, and the impact estimates suggest that containment and mitigation expenditures as high as several billion dollars would be cost-effective if they successfully avert the worse scenario.”  

The World Health Organization has reported the official death toll for West Africa’s Ebola outbreak to be 2,288 as of September 9. More than 1,000  of those deaths are located in Liberia. Questions have also mounted as to whether the Ebola outbreak could turn into a worldwide pandemic.

A full copy of the World Bank’s report can be seen here.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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