The human tragedy of the Ebola crisis in West Africa is apparent for all to see. What we don't see every day in the news is the impact the outbreak is having on other parts of life, such as the economy.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are poor countries to begin with. As developing countries, they don't have the resources to fight Ebola and deal effectively with other needs, including education. We see how even in a rich country like ours resources are stretched to fight Ebola. Imagine how much more difficult it is in a place like Guinea. Officials and economists fear dramatic economic downturns as all three West African countries fight Ebola.


A World Bank Group analysis last month said that if the epidemic continued to surge, the economic impact "could grow eight-fold, dealing a potentially catastrophic blow to the already fragile states." The study added, however, that if "swift" national and international actions can contain the epidemic and reduce people's fear, the economic costs could be limited.

We in the West need to do all we can to contain the Ebola epidemic and, at the same time, help these small African countries survive economically and develop their educational infrastructure.

Books For Africa, based in St. Paul, has just shipped 27,000 French books to our partners in Guinea. The books will be received by the charity Hope of Guinea and the U.S. Peace Corps. They are committed to distributing the books to 25 communities that are eager to continue teaching and inspiring young people, despite the Ebola outbreak.

These books provide an investment in the people of Guinea so they can continue to function as a society and, hopefully, move beyond the current Ebola crisis.