IMF preparing $200 million in aid to three main Ebola-hit nations

Health workers push a wheeled stretcher holding a newly admitted Ebola patient - 16-year-old Amadou - into the Save the Children Kerry town Ebola treatment centre outside Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Health workers push a wheeled stretcher holding a newly admitted Ebola patient - 16-year-old Amadou - into the Save the Children Kerry town Ebola treatment centre outside Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MONROVIA (REUTERS) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is preparing US$150 million (S$200 million) in additional support to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries at the heart of the Ebola epidemic, the Fund's representative in Liberia told Reuters on Thursday.

"In Guinea and Sierra Leone, existing Fund financial programmes are being augmented to provide more resources to these countries. In Liberia, a one-off disbursement under the Fund's Rapid Credit Facility is being considered," Charles Amo-Yartey told Reuters in an e-mail.

The money could be made available in the first quarter of this year and would add to US$130 million disbursed by the Fund last year, he said.

The epidemic has damaged the economies of the three West African states, two of which, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are recovering from civil wars.

The three are at the centre of the Ebola outbreak that has killed 8,235 people out of 20,747 infected over the past year, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday.

Sierra Leone, the country worst hit, reported nearly 250 new confirmed cases in the past week, but the spread of the virus there may be slowing.

The rate of transmission has ebbed in Liberia and Guinea.