Brussels/Dakar — The European Commission is allocating an additional €2 million to respond to the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded. This brings the Commission's aid to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa to €3.9 million.
"The level of contamination on the ground remains extremely worrying and we need to scale up our action before many more lives are lost," said Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. "I want to pay tribute to the health workers who strive around the clock to help the victims and prevent further contagion, often at serious risk to their own lives. The EU itself has deployed experts to the affected countries to help assess the situation and coordinate with the authorities. But we need a sustained effort from the international community to help West Africa deal with this menace".
The additional EU funding will help contain the spread of the epidemic and provide immediate healthcare to the affected communities. The EU's support will be channelled through partner organisations:
• The World Health Organisation (WHO) which is providing equipment and advice to the ministries of health as well as coordination and the epidemiological surveillance;
• Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) which is supporting the clinical management of cases including the isolation of patients and psychosocial support and the tracing of suspected cases;
• The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) which is supporting the National Red Cross societies to promote community awareness and preventative hygiene measures and providing safe burial of Ebola victims.
The Ebola epidemic is taking a devastating toll in the three affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. To date, the outbreak has seen 1200 cases and 670 deaths, including many health workers. A case has also been confirmed in Lagos (Nigeria), where a patient died on 26 July. Cases have been suspected in other West African countries but tested negative. According to the WHO, this is the largest recorded outbreak in terms of cases, deaths and geographical coverage.
The risk of the virus spreading to Europe is currently low, since most cases are in remote areas in the affected countries and those who are ill with the disease or who are contacts are encouraged to remain isolated. However, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is keeping the situation constantly under review and has issued several Rapid Risk Assessments providing guidance on how to proceed if suspected cases were detected in the EU. To date no cases have been detected among returning travellers in Europe.
The European Commission allocated humanitarian funding in response to the Ebola outbreak as early as March this year. The response has already been scaled up twice - in April and June. The funding has enabled WHO, MSF and IFRC to sustain and expand their actions.
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 advise leaflet has been endorsed by the Health Security Committee and is available in all EU languages.
Several European specialist teams of the European Mobile Laboratory project for dangerous infectious diseases have been dispatched to Guinea since April, with a mobile laboratory to support with viral haemorrhagic fever diagnostics, rapid analyses of samples and confirmation of cases. The EMLab project is a European initiative funded by the European Commission (EuropeAid Cooperation Office). It includes partners from Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Switzerland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. Humanitarian experts from the Commission's humanitarian aid department (ECHO) have also been deployed to the affected countries to undertake assessments and coordinate with the health authorities and humanitarian partners on the ground.