New surge of Ebola cases in West Africa: European Union increases its emergency funding

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European Commission - IP/14/735   24/06/2014

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 24 June 2014

New surge of Ebola cases in West Africa: European Union increases its emergency funding

The European Commission is allocating an additional €500 000 to enhance interventions aimed at curbing the worsening Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This brings the total of Commission aid to €1.9 million.

This is the worst outbreak ever of one of the deadliest diseases known to man. We cannot let down our guard - and we all have to step forward to help those who are courageously fighting the disease on the front line,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

The funding will enable three organisations to sustain and expand their actions: Médecins Sans Frontières for the clinical management of cases, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for community outreach and sensitization, and the World Health Organisation for the reinforcement of the countries’ health responses.

Humanitarian experts from the Commission are deployed in the region, where they are monitoring the situation and liaising with local authorities and partners.

The European Mobile Laboratory (EMLab), an EU-funded project for dangerous infectious diseases, has been operational in Gueckedou, Guinea since the end of March. The European lab experts help Guinea’s Ministry of Health to diagnose viral hemorrhagic fever among suspected cases, thus helping to confirm Ebola, reduce the number of undiagnosed cases and limit the further spread of the disease.

Background

More than 325 cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Up until the end of May only Guinea and Liberia had been affected. Since 29 May, however, 94 new cases have appeared in Sierra Leone’s Kailahun district, an area bordering Guinea. 12 new cases also reappeared in Liberia, which had been declared Ebola-free.

The impending rainy season is likely to hamper access to the remote epidemic hot spot of Kailahun. With new cases also reported in Guinea and Liberia the epidemic’s regional expansion requires coordinated approaches and an additional mobilization of resources.

First discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan in 1976, several outbreaks of this viral haemorrhagic fever have been reported in East and Central Africa, but not in West Africa.

Highly contagious, human to human transmission of Ebola occurs by simple contact with blood and body fluids. No vaccine or treatment is yet available for this pathogen, one of the world's most lethal with a case fatality rate of up to 90% depending on the strain.

For more information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

Ebola in West Africa: European Union joins effort to stop spread of disease (press release from 28 March 2014):

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-345_en.htm

Ebola in West Africa: EU increases its immediate health assistance to €1.1 million (press release from 11 April 2014): http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-426_en.htm

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