World Bank Group analysis on the economic impact of Ebola in Africa indicates that the epidemic will continue to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone even as transmission rates in the three countries show significant signs of slowing.
According to the group, the three countries will lose at least US$1.6 billion in relinquished economic growth in 2015 as a result of the epidemic.
However, the new report mentions that the probability of spread and the associated economic costs beyond the three most-affected countries are now much lower than previously feared because of the intensive global and national responses to the epidemic over the past several months.
It also noted that, national and international actions have resulted in a number of public health improvements within the three West African nations, including safer burial practices, earlier case detections, more health workers and treatment facilities, public awareness campaigns and stepped-up contact tracing.
?These policy and behavior responses have contributed to a lower risk of spread across borders. The lower estimates also reflect fast and effective containment measures taken in the neighboring countries of Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, all of which have now been declared Ebola-free? the report says.
It also revealed that should the menace be controlled and further outbreaks avoided, economic costs will be incurred across sub-Saharan Africa in 2015.
?Consumer and investor confidence has been eroded by the outbreak of the virus, and disruptions to travel and cross-border trade suggest cumulative losses of more than US$500 million across the region in 2015, outside the three directly affected countries.?
The report said the losses could be closer to US$6 billion if the Ebola outbreak were to spread through the region, buttressing the need for a swift end to the epidemic.
The World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim in Davos says, potential outbreaks have been averted because of swift action by other West African governments, adding that until we have zero new Ebola cases, the risk of continued severe economic impact to the three countries and beyond remains unacceptably high.