Asian countries are not contributing enough to the global effort to fight Ebola, despite having a wealth of trained medical personnel who could help stop the spread of the deadly virus, World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim, said.
Addressing a news conference in South Korea’s capital Seoul on Tuesday, Kim called on leaders across Asia to send trained health professionals to the three West African countries hardest hit by the epidemic.
“Many countries in Asia who could help simply are not [helping], especially when it comes to sending health workers,” Kim told the news conference.
Thousands of healthcare workers are needed to help combat the deadliest outbreak of Ebola since records began in 1976.
The virus has killed nearly 5,000 people, mainly in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
South Korea has pledged to contribute $5.6m to combat the virus, and both Japan and China have sent equipment or medical staff to the Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa.
China has so far donated $123m to 13 African countries and international organisations to combat Ebola, according to the government. It has also sent hundreds of health workers.
But the overall response from Asia has lagged contributions from the United States, which has sent thousands of troops and has pledged $1bn.
“We need thousands of health workers, and we’re going to need them over the next six months to a year. The fight against Ebola is not over until we get to zero cases in those three countries,” Kim said.
Poor response from China
Meanwhile, a report released by the Charities Aid Foundation on Monday, shows China at the bottom of the list of countries where people give money to charity, volunteer, or help a stranger.
The World Food Programme (WFP) last month called on Chinese firms and tycoons to donate more to fighting Ebola. “No one’s been willing to do anything big yet,” said Brett Rierson, the WFP’s China representative.
China is Africa’s biggest trade partner, with a huge economic interest in the continent, and the second biggest economy after the US.
US philanthropist Bill Gates wrote an editorial in the official People’s Daily newspaper in April calling for Chinese businesspeople to give back to the poor, both at home and internationally.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $50m to fight Ebola, while Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has said he is donating more than $100m.