The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved of funding and debt relief worth about $187 million for Ebola-hit Sierra Leone.
The IMF said that it was immediately disbursing just over $85 million to the country under an existing credit facility and further enlarged the facility by about $73 million. In addition it also approved $29 million in debt relief for the country under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust.
The IMF said, "The funds will support the government in the battle against the deadly disease by helping to cover immediate budget and balance of payments shortfalls, and reinforcing the government's foreign reserves."
IMF deputy managing director Min Zhu said, "The Sierra Leonean economy is battling two severe exogenous shocks with dramatic social and economic repercussions. The Ebola epidemic and the sharp decline in iron ore prices are weighing heavily on the economy and have the potential for significant output contraction, continued price pressures, and increased fiscal and balance of payments deficits in 2015."
Sierra Leone is one of the three West African countries most severely hit by the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed more than 9,500 people since the epidemic emerged in Guinea in December 2013. About 3,400 of the deaths have been reported in Sierra Leone.