The World Bank, supported by Japan, Germany and Australia, has allocated up to U.S. $80 million in grants over the next six months to help fight Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The grants will cover more than half the cost of the DRC government's drive to end the current Ebola outbreak.
The grants, announced by the bank on Thursday, comprise $60 million from the bank's fund for low-income countries, the International Development Association, and up to $20 from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), a funding mechanism created by the bank with support from the three developed nations.
The DRC needs an estimated $148 million for the period February to July to fund its efforts to halt the outbreak. Quoted in a World Bank news release, the country's Minister of Health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said the outbreak - the country's tenth - "has been the worst that our country has faced so far...
"This renewed financial commitment from the World Bank Group and the PEF allows us and our partners to concentrate fully on fighting Ebola and protecting the health of our citizens..." he added. "The situation is very challenging, but we are determined to increase our already strong efforts to contain the outbreak.”
The World Bank's interim president, Kristalina Georgieva, said while the priority was to end the current outbreak, the grants would help the DRC and its neighbours to build strong health systems to help protect them from the long-term damage that pandemics could cause.
The bank noted that the DRC has been fighting the outbreak since August last year, and that more than 480 deaths have been confirmed in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. It said it had provided most of the money to fight the outbreak so far.