It's devastated lives in three of Africa's poorest countries and had a big impact on the economy in West Africa. Ciara Lee looks at the cost of Ebola and asks if the region can recover in 2015.
It's the disease that's devastated lives in three of Africa's poorest countries. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone account for all but 15 deaths in the world's worst Ebola outbreak. It's claimed more than 6,300 victims. And then there's the financial toll: the World Bank says the cost to Sub-Saharan Africa's economy could reach three to four billion dollars in 2015. Daniel Richards is Senior Africa Analyst at Business Monitor. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DANIEL RICHARDS, SENIOR AFRICA ANALYST AT BUSINESS MONITOR INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "The worst affected sector we believe is the mining sector. This was a sector that was expected to power growth in these three countries over the coming years. A massive ramp up in investment in iron ore exports. The combination of the Ebola crisis and a drop in global iron ore prices has meant that has meant this sector has really been hit. Mines have closed in Sierra Leone. Two major mines have closed there. It's the restrictions on movement. Markets being closed, borders being closed." The World Bank has pledged 200 million dollars to fight the crisis. It's also working with the IMF and the African Development Bank on "tranches of budget support" for the countries. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DANIEL RICHARDS, SENIOR AFRICA ANALYST AT BUSINESS MONITOR, SAYING: "For years to come. the effects of the Ebola crisis will be felt. It's not only in the immediate years where a lack of investment will be felt. A generation will have not gone to school for a year. And there is some evidence for when that happens, children then don't go back to school, they might leave completely and go straight into labour which will mean lower literacy levels in the country." The bank forecasts Sierra Leone and Guinea's economies will both shrink by 2 percent and 0.2 percent respectively in 2015. In Liberia, where there are signs of containing the epidemic, its growth estimate is three percent. But the pain is also being felt elsewhere. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DANIEL RICHARDS, SENIOR AFRICA ANALYST AT BUSINESS MONITOR, SAYING: "People don't want to travel to West Africa for meetings, for conferences, so while it is not a major catastrophe as it might have been had the virus spread in Nigeria, it has really hurt the region." Despite foreign aid and the deployment of U.S. and British troops, the international response to the epidemic has been branded "sluggish and patchy." What happens next partly lies in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies rushing to develop Ebola vaccines. The U.S. has offered liability protection to drugmakers and have urged other countries to follow suit.