Libmonster ID: BY-2355
Author(s) of the publication: N. V. GRISHINA


Keywords: Ebola, epidemic, Africa, economy, damage

The latest and still undetected outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever was reported in West Africa in February 2014. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were the most affected by the deadly virus; cases of infection were recorded in Nigeria and Senegal. According to experts of the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the most dangerous outbreak of the disease since the discovery of the virus in 1976.1

The Ebola epidemic began in West Africa for the first time since it was identified as an infectious disease, so local doctors do not have experience in dealing with it. In addition to purely therapeutic measures, therapy includes isolation of the patient in a hospital with strict safety measures (low-pressure boxing, the use of respirators, gloves, glasses during the examination of the patient and the study of pathological material, compliance with the sterilization regime of instruments). However, in the countries of the region, the health sector is in a deplorable state, and the authorities of the countries affected by the epidemic were able to contain the spread of the disease only thanks to quarantine zones, since there was no cure for the deadly virus.

Since January 2015, the Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have recorded a significant slowdown in the spread of Ebola in their countries. 2 Since the beginning of last year, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have suffered the greatest losses, both in humanitarian and economic terms. By the beginning of summer 2015, the number of people infected with the deadly virus was estimated at 27.1 thousand people, and more than 11 thousand people died. 3

In the West African region, the epidemic has subsided, but the States most severely affected by the epidemic will need millions of dollars to restore their national economies.

In the countries affected by the virus, there is a serious shortage of medical facilities, qualified medical personnel and basic hospital equipment, a shortage of systems for transfusions of plasma, blood, blood substitutes, and disposable syringes. In these circumstances, the fight against Ebola was beyond the power of the national Governments of West African countries. Doctors from the United States, Cuba, Japan and other countries provided assistance to the population of the affected countries.

Russia has also made a contribution to solving this problem. In the summer of 2014, a team of specialists from the Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, which had specialized diagnostic laboratories at its disposal, was sent to Guinea to help local doctors. By January 2015, the total amount of funds allocated by Russia to fight Ebola exceeded $40 million. Funds were spent on various projects, including medical, food and educational assistance.4

Back in June last year, experts from the international medical organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) / Doctors without Borders stated that to contain the epidemic, a massive deployment of resources from West African States and humanitarian organizations is necessary. However, even then, MSF's own human resources for working in this dangerous region were almost exhausted.5

The situation is also aggravated by ineffective public awareness of the epidemic. Medical and preventive measures carried out in the areas of infection are often rejected by the local population as violating their usual way of life. Perhaps that is why the scale of the current Ebola epidemic is unprecedented in terms of territorial scope, the number of infected and deaths.

In October 2014 The World Bank (WB) has forecast developments in the context of damage to the economy of the West African region and the spread of Ebola. Economic losses by the end of 2014 were estimated at over $9 billion. provided that the epidemic is quickly stopped in the three most affected countries. It was assumed that if the disease spread to other countries in West Africa, then by the end of 2015, nega-

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the positive effect of it can reach $32.6 billion 6. However, these concerns were not confirmed, and the spread of fever decreased significantly in the first half of 2015.

By the end of 2014, Guinea's economic growth rate had declined from 4.5% to 2.4%, Liberia's from 5.9% to 2.5%, and Sierra Leone's from 11.3% to 8% .7

While inflation and rising food prices were initially contained, a few months after the outbreak of the epidemic, they began to rise due to factors such as food shortages, panic buying of goods, and speculation. First of all, the poorest segments of the population were affected. Various loan programs were almost exhausted, as borrowers, especially small businesses, could not pay their own debts.

According to the authors of the report of the French non-governmental humanitarian organization Action contre la faim ("Fight against hunger"), prepared jointly with the University of Naples (Italy), the spread of the Ebola virus would lead to the fact that the number of hungry people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone could increase by 733 thousand people. The organization itself planned that this year about 283 thousand people will be saved from starvation in this area.8 Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the outbreak has disrupted harvests in the worst-affected countries and led to a drop in trade volumes.9

Exchange rate volatility has increased in all three countries since June 2014, driven by uncertainty and resulting capital outflows from affected countries.

Significant consequences of the crisis are not only mortality, morbidity, the cost of caring for patients and the associated loss of working days, but also the fear of infection, and the corresponding behavior of people. Residents of the affected regions are afraid to contact each other, do not go to work, as a result of which labor productivity decreases, enterprises and institutions are closed, transport is disrupted, and authorities and private companies are forced to close seaports and airports. Analysis of recent infectious disease epidemics, such as SARS in 2002-2004 and the H1N1 influenza virus in 2009, suggests that 90% of the economic impact of epidemics is due to human behavior10.

In addition, there is a clear need for coordinated international action. The three most affected countries need external financial assistance, and spending on containing the spread of the epidemic and mitigating its consequences will be effective and beneficial if it avoids the worst-case scenario. The impact of Ebola has been felt seriously in the affected countries for more than a year and could be disastrous for the initially weak and now even more weakened States in the region. However, it is important not only to provide financial assistance, but also to control its intended use.

"Given the potential of the disease, which can cause widespread economic damage to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and their neighbors in West Africa, the international community must find ways to overcome logistical obstacles and attract more doctors and trained medical personnel, provide more hospital beds in order to help stop Ebola," said World Bank President Jim Carney. Yang Kim 11.

International aid arriving in the affected regions is aimed at improving medical infrastructure, training medical workers, and ensuring security at airports and seaports in the three affected countries and their neighbors.

Autumn 2014 The World Bank (WB) has allocated $230 million to finance Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as the most affected countries by the economic crisis caused by the Ebola epidemic. These funds were supposed to help reduce the spread of infection, mitigate the economic impact of the crisis, and serve to improve health systems in all countries of West Africa.

The World Bank supports countries in implementing the actions outlined in the WHO Action Plan (Roadmap) and closely coordinates the country assistance strategy with the UN and other international organizations. Of this amount, $117 million was allocated for emergency measures: $ 58 million for Liberia, $34 million for Sierra Leone and $25 million for Guinea. These funds were intended for the purchase of basic necessities and medicines, personal protective equipment, materials and equipment for sanitary and epidemiological control, training of health workers, for the payment of allowances to health workers and volunteers who were victims of the epidemic, for the purchase and maintenance of ambulances, as well as for financing an information dissemination campaign among the population 12.

The negative effects of the disease have spread far beyond the borders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, affecting such an important area for most African countries as tourism. The Ebola epidemic is negatively affecting the tourism industry in almost all of Africa. Tourists avoid not only countries to-

page 38

Some of them have reported cases of the disease, but they also refuse to travel to other regions of the continent.

As a result, the travel business, air carriers, restaurant business and entertainment industry of states located several thousand kilometers from the hotbeds of infection-Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa - suffer. For example, in Tanzania, the number of hotel reservations made by foreigners decreased by 30 to 40%, 13 while about 55% of South African tourism companies are suffering losses due to the Ebola safari tourism crisis. 14

Due to the reduction in the flow of tourists, wildlife suffers: the fewer visitors, the lower the cost of rangers and animal protection activities. In this regard, the number of poachers in Eastern and Southern Africa has increased. According to analysts, Kenya's tourism sector will suffer the most from the Ebola threat: in 2015, revenues from the tourism business here will be reduced by almost half, as a result of which the country will lose hundreds of thousands of jobs in this sector, which will ultimately lead to a deep crisis in the entire Kenyan economy.15

Agriculture is also severely affected, accounting for about 40% of GDP in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Mining plays an important role in the economy of all affected countries. But large Western companies have removed all their own personnel from the mines, as well as sharply restricted the work of enterprises. How this will affect the economy can be seen in Sierra Leone, where mining accounted for almost three-quarters of the 20% GDP growth in 2013.16

The world's largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal, has halted work on expanding a $1.7 billion iron ore mine in Liberia, recalling its employees from the country. Vale, an iron ore mining company in Guinea, has also withdrawn specialists from Africa, and laid off local staff. Mining corporations such as AngloGold Ashanti, Vedanta Resources, and African Minerals17.

In the current conditions, the economic situation can provoke political instability. Until recently, Liberia and Sierra Leone, among the poorest countries in the world, were experiencing a series of protracted civil wars. Therefore, there is a danger that panic, food shortages and general uncertainty about the future could disrupt the fragile peace in the region.

Some of the foreign companies have donated money to fight Ebola. Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest mining company, has donated $100,000 to the World Health Organization for this purpose. 18 In January this year, the first batch of an experimental Ebola vaccine was sent to Liberia, created by specialists from the United States and Great Britain and successfully tested on 200 volunteers. The drug was intended for 10 thousand people, including doctors working in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

WHO experts assumed that the Ebola virus could be defeated by mid-2015. However, in international medical circles, there is an opinion that the deadly virus is on the verge of mutation, as a result of which it can spread by airborne droplets. In this case, the symptoms of the disease will be similar to the flu, and the consequences of such an epidemic will be much more severe than those caused by Ebola.

However, on May 10, 2015, the UN declared Liberia Ebola-free, as no cases of infection had been recorded in the country in the previous month and a half. But the situation in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea still requires close medical attention.19

Perhaps the huge economic damage caused by the current outbreak could have been avoided by constantly strengthening national health systems. There are no national borders for the virus, and the threat posed by the fever is still real for the economies of West African countries and their populations.

1 The Ebola virus is an invisible threat to the world -

2 The UN records a significant slowdown in the spread of Ebola. 20.01.2015 - 233700

3 Novye Izvestiya. 11.03.2015.

4 - 06 - 2015/439900 - 0/

5 Ebola in West Africa: the epidemic requires significant deployment of resources. 26.06.2014 -

Chelala P. 6 Ebola threatens the economic development of Africa. 27.10.2014 -

7 press-release/2014/09/17

8 So many faces... hunger / / Kazakhstanskaya pravda. January 20, 2015

9 The Ebola virus is an invisible threat to the world...

10 Ibid.

11 Ebola could cost the West African economy $32 billion. -

12 press-release/2014/09/17

13 Hotel Association of Tanzania. 12.11.2014.

14 Ebola fever caused the safari tourism crisis / / Turkish and World Tourism News. 5.11.2014.

15 The tourism industry across Africa is suffering from the Ebola threat. 13.11.2014 -

Manukov S. 16 Ekonomicheskaya feverka [Economic fever]. 10.09.2014.

17 47680

18 Ebola ravages - world/

19 2015/05/10/


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N. V. GRISHINA, EBOLA: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE ECONOMIES OF AFFECTED COUNTRIES // Minsk: Belarusian Electronic Library (BIBLIOTEKA.BY). Updated: 23.11.2023. URL: (date of access: 22.02.2024).

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