EU steps up Ebola aid amid criticism

Bloc announces additional €61 million in aid to help West African governments after medics warn of 'slow and patchy' response

Bloc announces additional €61 million in aid to help West African governments after medics warn of 'slow and patchy' response

BRUSSELS – The European Union is to provide countries badly hit by Ebola in West Africa with an additional €61 million following warnings the international community's response to the virus could become a "double failure".

The EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, announced the extra funding in a press release on Monday, nearly a week after Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) warned the international community's actions in tackling the disease were "slow and patchy".

Mimica stated: ''We need to make sure that the countries can quickly recover from this crisis and get back on a path of sustainable development."

The €61 million includes funds to help the governments of Guinea and Liberia to mitigate the economic effects of the outbreak and to address security issues in affected countries, the release stated.

While the three worst-hit countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – have received assistance three months after MSF called for the emergency dispatch of aid workers, foreign governments have left the staffing of health care staff to local governments which do not have the expertise to do so, MSF said in a press release on Dec.2.

''The international response to Ebola in West Africa has so far been patchy and slow, and has left local people, national governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to do most of the practical, hands-on work,'' said MSF, a worldwide movement of 24 associations based in Switzerland.

-  Thousands killed

Facilities for isolating and diagnosing patients across West Africa remained inadequate, it said.

MSF went on: ''In rural areas of Liberia where there are active chains of transmission, for example, there are no transport facilities for laboratory samples.

''In Sierra Leone, scores of people calling into the national Ebola hotline to report a suspected case are told to isolate the person at home.''

The 28-nation bloc has so far pledged more than €1.1 billion to fight the deadly disease, which has killed more than 6,000 people and infected more than 17,000, according to the European Commission.

West Africa could suffer up to 10,000 new cases of Ebola every week by the end of November, the World Health Organization reported two months ago.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency