Addis Abeba – The European Union is continuing to scale up its response to the Ebola epidemic as its Coordinator for the emergency, Commissioner Christos Stylianides together with Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health, return from a four-day mission to the affected countries.
New funding of €29 million will be made available by the European Commission. Accordingly the EU allocated €17 for transporting vital aid supplies and equipment to the affected countries, evacuation of infected international aid workers to hospitals in Europe and training and deploying health workers to the ground. Money will also reinforce local health facilities and €12 million in assistance to the neighbors of the affected countries, to help them prepare for the risk of an Ebola outbreak through early detection and public awareness measures.
The new aid was announced by Christos Stylianides, EU Ebola Coordinator and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response upon his return from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea where he gathered first-hand knowledge of the challenges and considered the next steps in the EU response.
“I have seen for myself how much is being done on the ground, in very difficult circumstances, and how much more needs to be done to stop Ebola’s spread. I was impressed with the bravery of humanitarian workers in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. More of them are needed and we must intensify our joint efforts to contain, control, treat and ultimately defeat this virus,” said Christos Stylianides. Yesterday he bereifed EU Foreign Affairs Ministers on the Ebola response.
Sweden has announced that it will deploy, via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, 42 doctors, nurses and other health personnel who will run a treatment centre on the ground. Following his call for more medical workers where they are needed the most, Commissioner Stylianides welcomed this announcement and commended Sweden on acting decisively and making good use of the EU’s coordination assets.
Both Commissioner Stylianides and Commissioner Andriukaitis paid tribute to the European countries who are contributing experts, aid, and equipment in the fight against Ebola.
“We will not give up until Ebola is defeated. I saw great suffering and enormous needs during this trip: there are not enough doctors and nurses and I am appealing to all Health Ministers to send more medical staff to West Africa. I witnessed great need for equipment, medicines, transport means, water, and sanitation. Europe is here to help put an end to Ebola now and to help long-term recovery required to address these needs”, said the EU Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis.
The new funding brings the European Commission’s assistance for this emergency to €373 million. The European Union’s total contribution is close to €1.1 billion. This financial aid is in addition to essential equipment, medical personnel from Member States and coordinated delivery of support.
Commissioner Stylianides and Commissioner Andriukaitis visited Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. During their mission, they discussed the challenges with the national authorities, representatives of EU Member States and humanitarian organizations. They met with Ebola survivors and European aid workers.
They have also discussed procedures for exit screening of travelers flying to Belgium, France and other countries and the progress on the development of vaccines and treatment for Ebola. The EU is providing support for the testing of one candidate vaccine. First results are expected in December and if successful, more extensive “Phase 2” studies will begin early in 2015.
In addition to funding, the EU has deployed mobile laboratories, humanitarian experts and specialists in infectious diseases to the region. Coordinated by the European Commission, the Member States are providing aid supplies, medical equipment, ambulances and field hospitals. The Commission is also supporting the building and recovery of the health services of the affected countries. Moreover, together with the European pharmaceutical industry, the Commission has made available €280 million for research in vaccines and medication.