Photo: Corporal Paul Shaw/MOD
The impact of the Ebola outbreak on West Africa has been devastating for families, communities and public health systems already under severe strain. At the same time, the economic impact on the three main countries Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has been crippling, with the World Bank estimating that they will suffer a combined $1.6 billion in economic losses in 2015 due to the ongoing outbreak. Unemployment rates are also expected to remain high, with cross-border traders, private-sector wage earners and the self-employed among the worst hit. Liberia’s growth forecast for 2015 has been cut in half and projected growth in Sierra Leone and Guinea for 2015 has shrunk to below zero. These countries all had healthy growth rates predicted for 2015 before the epidemic.
Whilst the focus of the response to ebola has inevitably been on putting in place the necessary resources for agencies and medical staff to treat and support those directly affected, the important role business can play is increasinly apparent. From ensuring investment and financing continues to flow, to making available product and service innovations that overcome logistical challenges and reaching employees, suppliers and customers with advice on how to stay safe, business can play an important supporting role.
This online discussion will explore how the private sector can best contribute in the wake of a major public health emergency and identify lessons learned for the future.
Key questions for the discussion are:
- How can business best contribute to tackling public health crisis’ like ebola?
- What have we learned from the on-going ebola outbreak about how to successfully mobilise a business response, and where are the business innovations happening?
- How can public-private collaboration enhance the impact of business’s contribution?