Liberia Calls for Rebuilding Plan 03/03 06:09
BRUSSELS (AP) -- Liberia's president on Tuesday called for an international
aid plan to help rebuild economies in West Africa once Ebola is under control.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Tuesday that "we need our international partners
to remain committed to us," as the number of deaths from the disease approaches
Sirleaf told fellow regional leaders and delegates at a major international
conference on Ebola in Brussels that rebuilding economies devastated by the
outbreak is a long-term and costly task.
She said that "the most important long-term response to Ebola rests on plans
and strategies for economic recovery," adding that "this will require
significant resources, perhaps even a Marshall Plan."
The outbreak is focused in an area of West Africa about the size of France,
with a population of about 20 million people, and where infrastructure is
limited. Even if the number of new Ebola cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra
Leone has dropped significantly, bringing it down to zero will still take a
Ebola has hurt the three countries' already fragile economies, shifting
resources resulting in other health care problems and hurting business as
people grew scared to leave their homes or go to markets.
Some $4.9 billion has been pledged internationally to the Ebola effort, but
less than half, some $2.4 billion, has actually been disbursed.
Nevertheless, important progress has been made as the number of new cases of
Ebola has dropped to around 100 per week, down from 800-900 at the height of
the outbreak in August and September.
But experts and officials warn that eradicating the last cases poses a huge
challenge, requiring everyone to be located and treated, and the close
monitoring of all people they may have come in contact with.
"It's very important to step up our vigilance and support," said Guinea's
president, Alpha Conde.
The head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies also warned against any loss of momentum.
"The Ebola outbreak is not over and complacency, both at local and global
levels, would be one of our worst enemies," said Elhadj As Sy.