World Bank chief urges Asian health help in Africa

Published Tue, Nov 4, 2014 · 06:59 AM

[SEOUL] World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Tuesday urged Asia to send trained health workers to Ebola-stricken West Africa, warning the focus on stricter border control was not the solution.

"I call on countries across Asia to offer trained health workers now to help stop Ebola at its source," Mr Kim told reporters in Seoul.

He welcomed efforts by South Korea, China and Japan to send medical personnel or equipment to combat the outbreak.

Asia has a wealth of medical personnel who could be "among the heroes needed now on the frontlines" Mr Kim said, but added that many Asian countries "who could help simply are not - especially when it comes to sending health workers".

"Focusing only on border control is not the right response. The world needs to put the fire out because if it doesn't Ebola could spread to any country, including those here in Asia," he said.

Asia must send "trained health professional teams" to the three worst-hit countries - Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, he said, adding just 30 medical teams from around the world have gone to the epicentre of the growing crisis so far.

The World Bank has warned of potentially catastrophic economic losses from the outbreak in West Africa where the deadly disease has killed almost 5,000.

The World Health Organization, has so far recorded more than 13,000 cases but admits the real number of could be could be much higher.

In early October, the World Bank joined the WHO and the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response to set a "70/70/60" goal: to isolate and treat 70 per cent of suspected Ebola cases in West Africa and safely bury 70 per cent of the dead within the next 60 days.

It has marshaled some US$500 million to help battle the disease as well as strengthen social services in the three countries over the medium term.


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