Thursday, 23/1/2020 | 7:31 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Article – Ebola: from minor outbreak to humanitarian disaster in Africa

The risk of Ebola spreading in Europe might be low, but the outbreak has proved disastrous for the affected African countries. The Ebola crisis was discussed by the public health committee on 5 November, during which Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said that European countries were well prepared for the disease. The development committee also debated the outbreak on 3 November with ambassadors of the affected countries, who stressed the need for a post- Ebola Marshall plan.

Some MEPs critised international organisations such as the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) for taking a long time to respond and stressed the importance of NGOs such as Doctors without Borders during the debate organised by the enviornment commitee on 5 November. Matthias Groote, a German member of the S&D group,  said the EU also needed to improve communication on the issue. 

Peter Liese, a German member of the EPP group, stressed that a possible vaccine would take time to develop and therefore it was not something we should rely on when helping the affected countries. “We have to strengthen the health systems [in West Africa] now,” he added.

Good quality treatment

The repatriation of international health care workers who contracted Ebola was considered essential for fighting ebola on the ground. “This is an area where we could do more,” said environment committee chair Giovanni La Via, an Italian member of the EPP group .

Marc Sprenger, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, pointed out that these were patients coming to Europe in controlled circumstances.

Josu Juaristi Abaunz, a Spanish member of the GUE/NGL group, commented: “Unfortunately public opinion in Europe is more concerned with a few cases that may arise on European shores than with the humanitarian disaster in Africa.”

Replying to questions from MEPs, WHO representative Jakab said: “I agree that It would be easier for everybody if good quality treatment can be provided there, which until now was not the case.”

Post-Ebola Marshall plan

The development committee meeting on 3 November also discussed how the affected countries should be helped. “We need some kind of post- Ebola Marshall plan, because we need to rebuild the economies,” said Ousmane Sylla, ambassador of the Republic of Guinea to the EU and chair of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors.

Development chair Linda McAvan, a UK member of the S&D group, said that the committee was aware that it was necessary to continue supporting the countries afected after the end of the outbreak.