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Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and EU Ebola Coordinator. Photo credit: EU/ECHO
The European Union and its Member States continue to mobilise all available resources to help contain the largest Ebola epidemic on record.
In response to the EU’s call for the mobilisation of qualified, trained and experienced health workers, Greece will send a team of six medical personnel – four doctors, a nurse and a paramedic- to the affected countries of West Africa through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, as well as contributing to the funding of much-needed material. This was announced in a joint statement by EU Ebola Coordinator Christos Stylianides and the Greek Minister of Health, Mavroudis Voridis, on Saturday 6 December, in Athens.
Several Member States have already responded to the Commissioner’s call for action. On Friday 5 December, Belgium committed to the deployment of a mobile laboratory to Guinea, for early detection of the virus and to help stop the epidemic from spreading further. Developed by the Ministry of Defense, the Université Catholique de Louvain, and the European Space Agency, the mobile unit will be transported to Nzerekore and funded through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM). The government has received insurances from France to ensure the team’s security.
For its part, France recently offered two additional medical teams who work in Guinea and Mali, and Sweden deployed 42 doctors, nurses and other health personnel via the EUCPM, who currently run a treatment centre in Liberia.
To support the mobilisation of international humanitarian aid workers, the EU Member States’ contributions are also strengthening the capacities to evacuate international aid personnel who contract Ebola. Following Luxembourg, which announced the availability of two planes for this purpose in November, Germany has now made available an airplane fully equipped for the treatment of severe Ebola cases.
West Africa is currently facing the worst Ebola epidemic on record. More than 17 500 people have been infected and more than 6 100 have died in the affected countries.
The unprecedented scale of the Ebola epidemic requires a robust and effective coordinated international response. Beyond the human tragedy, the disease is having devastating effects on the security and economy of the whole region, including the collapse of health systems in Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as shortcomings in food security and nutrition, governance, agriculture, security and other key areas.
The European Union has been active in the response to the Ebola emergency from the start. In addition to personnel on the ground, the EU (European Commission and Member States) has contributed over €1.1 billion in response to the Ebola outbreak, of which over €434 million has been provided by the European Commission for humanitarian and development aid, early recovery assistance as well as medical research.