€140 million for fight against Ebola as UN calls for more action

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 September 2014

Ebola - Ban Ki Moon appealAs the race against time in the fight against the Ebola virus in West Africa intensifies, support for the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea keeps pouring in, with the death toll in the region now exceeding 2,000.

The UN is calling for more to be done to save lives in West Africa.

The European Commission has agreed to provide €140m to help affected countries upgrade their deplorable health systems that have been seriously overrun by the outbreak of Ebola.

In particular, the new funding will help to upgrade treatment centres, provide support for health workers, and contribute towards food security, and access to clean water and sanitation.

Announcing the funding package in Benin, European Commissioner for Development – Andris Piebalgs, said that; “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.”

But the issue of a West Africa co-ordinated strategy still remains unresolved. Individual governments are left to form partnerships with international agencies, as they struggle to combat the disease.

EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response – Kristalina Georgieva said; “The situation is going from bad to worse, despite the brave efforts of humanitarian organisations 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.”

eu logo€38m of the funding will go towards strengthening 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.

€97.5 million will be spent on Budget Support for Liberia and Sierra Leone; help reinforce governments’ capacity to deliver public services – in particular health care – and macroeconomic stability.

There are reports that both the United States and Britain will be sending troops and equipment to West Africa to help curb the spread of Ebola, as the World Health Organization warns that the outbreak is outstripping the region’s capacity to respond, and the number of victims forecast to reach 20,000 by March 2015.

obama kerryIn an NBC interview last weekend and in response to strong media criticisms of America’s poor response to the crisis, president Obama announced that the U.S. military will be sent to West Africa to help build and equip isolation units for the public health workers arriving in West Africa from around the world.

According to the Pentagon, the troops will construct a 25-bed field hospital in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, to care for health workers.

The Pentagon spokesperson said that the military will hand over the facility to the Liberian government, once it has been established; and will ensure that supplies are maintained at the hospital, as well as provide necessary logistics support for six months.

“If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates, it becomes more easily transmittable, and then it could be a serious danger to the United States,” president Obama told NBC.

According to the British government, military engineers and medical experts will build and operate a 62-bed care facility in Freetown, which will include a 12-bed treatment centre that will provide specialist care for health workers to “ensure they can continue to respond to the disease as safely and efficiently as possible.” The facility will be staffed by local and international personnel.

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