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    Review of 'Economic impact of Ebola Virus Disease outbreak on an extractive firm: a case study'

    Economic impact of Ebola Virus Disease outbreak on an extractive firm: a case studyCrossref
    Critical evidence on how Ebola epidemic impacted the economy of extractive industry
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    Economic impact of Ebola Virus Disease outbreak on an extractive firm: a case study

    Purpose: The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak was the most severe public health emergency in modern times. The economic impact of outbreaks has mostly been analysed at the macroeconomic level. Conversely, we aimed to estimate the economic costs of preventive measures of the outbreak to an extractive firm, ArcelorMittal, using data in the outbreak region from March 2014 to December 2015. ArcelorMittal is the worlds largest steel producer and particularly important in West Africa, where the extractive industry is economically crucial. Methods: Qualitative methods, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, were used to investigate the events and channels of impact of the outbreak on the firm, as perceived by employees and contractors. Quantitative data regarding these costs was also collected. Retrospective cost analysis estimated the actual cost of preventive methods adopted. Results: Most respondents indicated the largest cost impact was suspension of Phase II expansion, a series of projects designed to increase iron ore production in Liberia. The next largest cost was the preventive measures adopted to counter disease spread. Total costs incurred for adopting preventive measures was USD 10.58-11.11 million. The overall direct costs of preventive measures adopted within the fence shared 30-31% of the total costs incurred. The share of external donation supporting humanitarian response was 11-12% of the total costs, followed by 7-12% of relational costs. Conclusions: The firms response during the EVD outbreak focused on its employees and operations, which was later expanded to the wider community and then in supporting the international humanitarian response.

      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Economics of health & social care,Health & Social care,Infectious disease & Microbiology,Public health
      Liberia,Environmental economics,Africa,Sanitation, health, and the environment,economics,ebola,health economics,epidemic

      Review text

      1. Introduction– 

      (i) The term outbreak has been used to mean epidemic. This should be changed accordingly.

      (ii) It is not clear whether the study considers the microecomic factors, macroeconomic factors, or only losses incurred by the industry. This needs to be explicitly stated in the rationale.

      (iii) It has not been justified why the authors want to estimate the cost and what "channels of impact" are considered.

      2. Materials and Methods–

      (i) The study design is not clear. 

      (ii) Study variables should be explicitly stated.

      (iii) Quality assurance measures for FGDs need to be included.

      (iv) The quantitative analysis method does not detail the following components of costing– items, outputs, cost, source of information, methods of estimation, approximations, missing values and adjustments. All these should be included.

      (v) Qualitative analysis should include the methods of pre-analysis and analysis.

      3. Results–

      (i) This section contains informations that should either be moved to methods or to discussion. E.g.

      "Force Majeure, when unforeseeable circumstances prevent a contract from being fulfilled, was declared, with contractors pulling out of Liberia in August and September of 2014. Although the EVD outbreak may have been responsible for the series of events that led up to this declaration, the situation was different in 2015. The mining firm decided to delay and eventually to temporarily suspend the expansion which may have been due to the tough international market conditions for iron ore in that year (2015)." should be moved to discussion.

      "The main sources of actual costs impact were (a) preventive measures adopted in the firm’s concession areas and raising awareness in the adjacent community, (b) in-kind donations of priority materials and direct support to national and international engagement in the health and humanitarian crisis, (c) Ebola-related construction costs, (d) additional salary paid to workers as hazard pay during the outbreak period, and evacuation of NES." should be moved to cost analysis.

      (ii) Multiple statements are vague. E.g. "A number of", "Some respondents", etc. 

      (iii) Attributions have been inferred without any alternative assumption through out the result section. First, the result section should only include facts and figures and second, the attributions with appropriate arguments should be moved to discussion section.

      4. Discussion–

      (i) The flow of result and discussion sections are not in sync. The sections should be re-structured accordingly.

      (ii) Two important findings are– suspension of phase ii and initial delay in outbreak communication. It is likely from the finding that the delayed outbreak communication had a domino effect and had also impact on the subsequnt phases (e.g. suspension of phase ii, increased cost of prevention, etc.). This is not explicit in the discussion and the recoomendations are not well connected to each other. The above needs to modified accordingly.


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