The World Bank says it has provided $10 million grant to improve disease surveillance and response systems in ECOWAS countries.

The Bank announced October 31, 2013 that it has given the grant to the Africa Catalytic Growth Fund for the project known as the West Africa Regional Disease Surveillance Capacity Strengthening Project.

In 2008-2009, 14 of the 15 ECOWAS countries experienced at least one outbreak of meningitis, and half experienced two outbreaks, and according to the World Bank the number of meningitis cases tripled during this period.

?The project will build the capacity to identify outbreaks at an early stage and take action at both the local and regional levels,? the Bank said on its website.

To be implemented by the West African Health Organization, the project is expected to help countries to establish or upgrade their ?disease surveillance capacity and adopt the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response Strategy? laid down by the World Health Organization.

Under the project, laboratory workers and other health staff will be trained on how to use a common framework to report and respond to the first signs of deadly diseases like meningitis, yellow fever, Lassa fever, cholera, polio, measles and dengue in their districts.

By Ekow Quandzie/

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