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The European Commission has today announced €140m of funding for the countries currently affected by the Ebola virus in West Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.

€38 million of the new package is specifically designed to help those governments bolster their health services (for example through reinforcing treatment centers or support for health workers), both during the crisis and in the recovery phase. It will also provide support in the areas of food security, water and sanitation, which are essential in terms of safeguarding the health of the population.

Announcing the support today during his official visit to Benin, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, said “The ongoing Ebola crisis remains extremely concerning; not just because of its obvious impact on health services but also due to the wider challenges it brings to the region in terms of economic stability, food security, water and sanitation. Our package shows that the EU continues to be committed to a strong, coordinated international response and will do all it can to help governments in those countries affected in the areas where it is most needed.”

Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: “The situation is going from bad to worse, despite the brave efforts of humanitarian organizations and despite early and substantial assistance provided by the international community, including the EU. We are helping make a difference on the ground, but the needs are outpacing the international community’s capacity to react. We need to pool our efforts and provide adequate air transportation and medical equipment to our partners in order to fight this menace.”

The total package of €140 million will be split as follows: €38m to strengthen healthcare systems, including in the areas of healthcare provision, food security, water and sanitation, €5 million towards providing mobile laboratories for the detection of the virus and training health workers (as part of the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, or IcSP) and €97.5 million will be spent in Budget Support (BS) operations to Liberia and Sierra Leone, to reinforce governments’ capacity to deliver public services – in particular health care – and macro-economic stability.

The fact that affected West African countries have seen a spiraling of Ebola cases reveals, among other things, the inadequacies of their current health systems. Contagion can be controlled with adequate measures and gear, but through active engagement of local and international partners. Any measures aimed at isolating these countries would only exacerbate the situation.

Several European specialist teams of the European Mobile Laboratory project for dangerous infectious diseases have been dispatched to Guinea and Nigeria (and one will arrive in Liberia next week), with mobile laboratories to support with viral haemorrhagic fever diagnostics, rapid analyses of samples and confirmation of cases.

The European Commission has been scaling up its response to the epidemic since March 2014 and has pledged a total of €11.9 million in humanitarian aid (including €8 million from the €38million mentioned above to strengthen healthcare systems). Humanitarian experts have been deployed in the region, monitoring the situation and liaising with partner organizations and local authorities.

This is the first Ebola virus outbreak registered in the region. Highly contagious, human to human transmission of Ebola occurs by contact with blood and body fluids.

The European Commission is also working closely with the EU Member States within the Health Security Committee to keep them informed about the latest developments and secure the synchronization of measures. A travel advice leaflet has been endorsed by the Health Security Committee and is available in all EU languages.

 

Photo: SEYLLOU / AFP – Getty Images

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