Ellen Calls For “Marshall Plan” For Ebola-Affected Countries

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called for a “Marshall Plan” for the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa.

She was referring to the massive US aid programme for Europe launched after World War Two.

Her comments came after Sierra Leone was immediately granted more than $80m (£52m) to help end the Ebola outbreak and recover from its effects.

The IMF has pledged a $187m financial aid package for Sierra Leone.

World leaders are currently meeting in Brussels to talk about Ebola and long-term plans to fight the disease.

Nearly 10,000 people have died in the outbreak, the vast majority in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Speaking in Brussels, MsSirleaf said: “We believe that a regional approach would achieve the best recovery results. This can only be achieved with your support, the support of partners who will be willing to allocate resources to a regional plan that is home grown.

“There is no doubt that this will require significant resources, perhaps even a Marshall Plan… We believe however that this can be achieved through allocation of the additional resources committed by the European Commission.

“Resources can also be sourced from the CCR [Catastrophe Containment and Relief] Trust Fund established by the International Monetary Fund and by regional envelopes by the World Bank and the African Development Bank.”

On Monday the UN said that the struggle to contain the epidemic was reaching a “second phase”.

UN experts say the spread of the disease in West Africa has dropped to almost 10% of what it was six months ago.

Liberia in particular continues to have a low level of transmission, with only one new confirmed case in the week leading to 22 February. This compares to 34 in Guinea and 63 in Sierra Leone.

But the UN special envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro, told AP that the international community should not become complacent as getting to zero cases was “the hardest part”.

“It’s a really difficult, painstaking task,” he said.

About 600 delegates met in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the response to the outbreak.

The BBC’s Anne Soy, in Brussels, says that there is a danger of donor fatigue, even though the Ebola outbreak has received a lot of attention from the international community.

The healthcare systems of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will also need help to recover from the effects of the outbreak.

Scarce healthcare resources have had to be directed to controlling the epidemic and it has become harder to get treatment for other diseases.

The Ebola outbreak has killed 9,714 people in West Africa since it began in 2014, with 23,913 confirmed cases.

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