EU ships emergency Ebola supplies to West Africa

BRUSSELS – Urgently needed medical and relief supplies have been sent by ship to the worst Ebola-hit region of West Africa, the European Commission has announced.

The Dutch vessel Karel Doorman, carrying 1,500 tons of food for the World Food Programme along with more than 50 vehicles, medical supplies and protective clothing for health personnel, was setting sail for the region on Friday.

EU Ebola chief Christos Stylianides said in a press release: "We are at a decisive stage in the fight against the disease and more is needed – more health workers, more access, more efforts to improve the response on the ground and the healthcare systems of the affected countries.

"In addition to our intensive political efforts, we have mobilized logistical, financial and scientific resources to help contain, control and ultimately defeat Ebola - but the epidemic is far from being over."

- Response warning

The supplies were provided by Belgium, France, Germany and the U.K. days after the EU pledged another €61 million to fight Ebola - an addition to over €1.1 billion the bloc had already announced it would spend on the deadly disease which has killed more than 6,000 people and infected more than 17,000, according to the European Commission.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had warned that the international community's response to the virus could become a "double failure".

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.

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.

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