West Africa to lose $3.6 bn annually owing to Ebola: UN

West Africa to lose $3.6 bn annually owing to Ebola: UN

West Africa would lose at least $3.6 billion annually on an average between 2014 and 2017 as a result of the ripple effects of the Ebola disease, a UN report has said.

Owing to a decrease in trade, closing of borders, flight cancellations and reduced foreign direct investment (FDI) and tourism, the region of West Africa would witness a loss of GDP, said the report titled "Socio-economic impact of Ebola in West Africa", which was released on Thursday, Xinhua said. 

The report added that the region would also see a drop of $18 in per capita income annually in that three-year period. 

"The consequences of Ebola are vast," said Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the director of UN Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa. 

"Stigma, risk aversion and shutting down of borders have caused considerable amount of damage, affecting economies and communities in a large number of countries across the sub-region."

The report said that actions for preventing future outbreaks must include the strengthening of health sectors across the region, creating a regional centre for disease control and prevention, and establishing early warning and disaster management systems.

According to new figures released on Thursday by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 10,004 people have died from the disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, and more than 24,350 people have been infected.

The UN announced on Wednesday that the WHO and the World Food Programme (WFP) would be joining forces to bring the cases of Ebola outbreak in West Africa down to zero.

Ebola is a form of haemorrhagic fever, symptoms of which are diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding. The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, faeces or sweat. It can also be spread through sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

The virus currently has no approved therapy or vaccine, though earlier this month, the WHO launched Ebola vaccination trials in Guinea. 

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