Leaders of the West African countries worst hit by Ebola urged the world on Tuesday to back a “Marshall Plan” to help them stamp out the disease and rebuild their shattered economies. The term refers to the massive U.S.-led aid plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma and Guinean President Alpha Conde, speaking at an international conference in Brussels, pressed the need for recovery as the number of new cases slows.
More than 9,700 people have died of the disease with nearly 24,000 people infected since the West African epidemic emerged in southern Guinea in December 2013, according to the World Health Organization.
“The impact of Ebola on our economies has been profound. The most important long-term response to Ebola therefore rests in plans and strategies for economic recovery,” Sirleaf told the EU-backed conference.
“There is no doubt this will require significant resources, even a Marshall Plan,” she said.
Conde also underlined the need for a so-called Marshall Plan, telling a press conference that it was as if the region is “coming out of a war” with its economy and public services decimated.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington approved on Monday funding and debt relief worth about $187 million for Sierra Leone for coming years, with $85 million of that to be disbursed immediately.
The charity Oxfam has previously made similar calls for a Marshall Plan-type effort to help stricken West Africa.