The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has launched a report based on a study on the socio-economic impacts of the Ebola Virus Disease on Africa.
The report raises the alarm on the risk of a rise in mortality due to diseases not related to Ebola and also points out the wider impacts of the virus on the livelihoods of those affected.
Educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment, and decreased food security are some of the big issues that Ebola-affected countries must deal with, according to the report.
Despite the alarm, the Executive Secretary of UNECA, Carlos Lopes, called for a careful and cautious approach to the response. Lopes noted that while the social and economic situation in the three most affected countries is dramatic, the crisis for Africa as a continent is exaggerated.
According to the report, West Africa has been the fastest growing region in Africa in recent years. Based on 2013’s estimates, the three Ebola countries taken together only represent 2.42% of West Africa’s GDP and 0.68% of Africa’s GDP, so West Africa’s overall growth should remain robust.
The overall objective of the report is to assess the socio-economic impacts of EVD not only on the countries with widespread and intense transmission but West Africa more widely and the continent as a whole, both the real costs as well as growth and development prospects.
The study looks at the outbreak’s impacts – qualitative and quantitative – endeavouring to grasp the interrelations among them by investigating mechanisms and channels of transmission, while trying to capture their size. Analysing these findings, the study offers recommendations to mitigate the disease’s impacts, including building more systematic coping and response mechanisms.
Despite uncertainty surrounding some of this study’s estimates and analysis, they are useful for policymakers (of affected and non-affected countries) to better understand the impacts of an EVD outbreak on socio-economic development and performance, allowing them to plan ahead and devise strategies for more resilience to EVD. The study’s findings and conclusions will be updated until the crisis is over, culminating in a fully-fledged evaluation once the outbreak is contained.
Click here to download the full report.