Counting The Cost: Ebola On Al Jazeera Tonight

By Al Jazeera Africa

On tonight's episode of Counting The Cost, Al Jazeera's Kamahl Santamaria discusses the findings of the new United Nations Economic Commission for Africa report on Ebola with UNECA executive secretary Dr. Carlos Lopes.

While the Ebola outbreaks in both Nigeria and Senegal officially ended in October 2014, the report says there have been 13 241 cases identified and 4950 deaths reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone so far. Guinea has the highest mortality rate, with 60% (1054 out of 1760), followed by Liberia with 42% (2766 out of 6619) and Sierra Leone with 23% (1130 out of 4862). On average the mortality rate of the breakout so far is 37%.

The report notes the risk of a rise in mortality of diseases not related to Ebola and points out the wider impacts of the virus, like the educational system being shut down, social stigmas, rising unemployment, and decreased food security.

10 businesses are closing per week in Liberia, while the 2014 GDP growth projections for the three affected countries have all been revised downwards: Guinea from 4.5 % to 3.5% and then to 2.4%; Sierra Leone from 11.3 to 8% and then to 6.6%; and Liberia from 5.9% to 2.5% and now to 1%. Liberia's projection for 2015 is a 0% growth rate.

However, Dr. Lopes tells Al Jazeera that, while the social and economic situation in the three most affected countries is dramatic, the crisis for Africa is exaggerated. For example, the report points out that West Africa is the fastest growing region in Africa in recent years, with projections for 6.9% and 6.8% for 2014 and 2015. Based on 2013's estimates, the three Ebola countries taken together only represent 2.42 percent of West Africa's GDP and 0.68 percent of Africa's GDP, so West Africa's overall growth should remain robust.

“In Africa we are dealing with a stigma that is growing by the day and this is going to affect economies that have nothing to do with Ebola,” he says.

Dr. Lopez says the international community has pledged $3.2 billion but they are not seeing that money being spent on the ground. “We are talking about 3.2 billion dollars that has already been announced. But then when you look into the ground, and we have been talking to the leaders of these three countries, you don't even see close to that. I think we are about between 15-20 percent of disbursements taking place on the ground."

This week's episode of Counting the Cost premieres tonight, Friday, 14 November 2014 at 22h30 GMT/23h30 CAT.

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