The World Bank has said the current outbreak of Ebola could have a devastating impact on the economies of some West African countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
However, it says a fast response to the epidemic could help limit the spread. Ebola has killed 2,461 people in West Africa which has been the largest outbreak ever.
US President Barack Obama has referred to the latest outbreak as a global security threat. The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976.
He announced a larger US role in fighting the virus. The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities.
The UN Security Council has organized an emergency meeting to discuss the epidemic.
It is expected to pass a resolution demanding a more forceful international response to the crisis, urging member countries to provide medical staff and field hospitals.
The resolution will also call for the lifting of travel restrictions that have prevented health workers from offering assistance. UN officials have described the outbreak as a health crisis “unparalleled in modern times”.
According to the World Bank’s analysis billions of dollars could be drained from West African countries by the end of next year if the virus continued to spread.
Under the worst-case scenario, the global development lender predicted that economic growth next year could be reduced by 2.3 percentage points in Guinea and 8.9 percentage points in Sierra Leone.
It predicted Liberia’s economy would be hardest-hit, losing 11.7 percentage points off its growth next year.
Emphasis was made on the need to tackle the fear of the disease, as well as the virus itself.
According to the BBC, productivity has dropped in sectors of the economy such as agriculture and mining as a result of quarantine measures, and because of fears about the spread of the disease. Many people are working less, and earning and spending less as a result, fuelling poverty.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said that the sooner we get an adequate containment response and decrease the level of fear and uncertainty, the faster we can blunt Ebola’s economic impact.”