World Bank Group

02/28/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/28/2019 09:17

Ebola Escalated Response: US$80 Million Commitment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

World Bank Group and Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility support government and partners to contain the outbreak

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2019-The World Bank Group and the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) have approved a total of up to US$80 million in grants to support over half the estimated cost of an escalated six-month Ebola response effort being mounted by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and international partners. The escalated campaign is estimated to cost about US$148 million and covers the period from February through the end of July 2019.

The World Bank Group today has made US$60 million of grant financing available through the International Development Association (IDA), its fund for low-income countries.

The Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), an innovative financing mechanism created by the World Bank Group together with Japan, Germany and Australia, approved up to a $20 million grant from its Cash Window within three days of receiving a request from the DRC government. Half of this amount will be released immediately to support frontline response, with the balance to be released within a month or sooner according to operational need.

'This 10th Ebola outbreak has been the worst that our country has faced so far, and 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.' said Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga, Minister of Health of the DRC. 'The situation is very challenging, but we are determined to increase our already strong efforts to contain the outbreak.'

'Our priority is to halt this outbreak of Ebola and limit the devastation it causes to families and communities. Today's commitment ensures that lifesaving work can be urgently scaled up, and that lack of funding is not a constraint,' said World Bank Group Interim President and CEO Kristalina Georgieva. 'Our investments today also help DRC and its neighbors to build strong health systems that protect their people and economies from the long-term damage that pandemics can cause.'

The DRC has been fighting the current Ebola outbreak since August 2018, and over 480 deaths have been confirmed in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces, as of this week. The World Bank has so far provided the majority of the financing for the Ebola response efforts from August 2018 through February 2019. It has also provided technical support to the strengthen the DRC health system and invested in pandemic preparedness in the nine countries bordering the DRC in case the outbreak crosses borders.

'The urgent needs of this latest outbreak in the DRC continue to illustrate the importance of the PEF in providing quick and reliable surge financing for health emergencies,' said Dr. Gerd Müller, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany. 'We are committed to working with all partners to ensure a swift and comprehensive response effort.'

'As the first international partner to contribute to the creation of the PEF, we continue to believe that it offers a robust financing mechanism for pandemic response,' said Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Japan, Masatsugu Asakawa. 'The rapid releaseof funds upon the request from the DRC towards the current Ebola outbreak ensures that we can adequately fight this infectious threat.'

'Our support for the PEF comes from Australia's determination to help reduce the risk of global pandemics and improve health security for all,' said the Head of the Centre for Health Security in Australia, Mr. Robin Davies. 'Supporting this escalated Ebola response ensures that the PEF continues to fulfill its mission.'

The PEF's cash window was first activated in May 2018 during the DRC's 9th Ebola outbreak in Equateur province, which was successfully contained within weeks. In addition to the cash window, the PEF has a $425 million insurance window, consisting of bonds placed on the capital markets, which could be activated if a larger, multi-country response were to be required. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet declared the current Ebola outbreak in DRC a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).