EU looks for volunteers to fight Ebola

EU officials said  that the main challenge is to mobilise more medical staff, including volunteers, and send them to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries mostly hit by the Ebola epidemic, reports

Experts representing various Commission directorates spoke to the press ahead of a meeting of EU health ministers to be held today, as well as a Foreign Affairs Council on 20 October, and an EU summit on 23-24 October, at which the issue of Ebola is also on the agenda.

 The main message appears to be that more people should be put on the ground, to provide an adequate response to the challenge.

An expert admitted that there was a gap between available resources, specifically beds, and what is needed, the ratio being 1 to 3. There are around 1,100 beds available in Liberia, but more than 3,000 are required, he said.

 “First and foremost the challenge is to mobilise more medical staff. We have to mobilise foreign medical teams, call on member states, mobilise volunteers, send them on the field”, an expert said.

 Reportedly, working groups on Ebola are being held daily, bringing together both Commission services and member states. Also, once a week, the UN and NGOs have been involved in the coordination.

 Overall assistance so far has been of more than €450 million, with €180 coming from the EU and €300 from some member states, the UK, France and Germany being cited. However, it was said that this financial effort was not sufficient.

 Work on the ground has been done mostly through Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the French-founded humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization, but also through WHO, the International Red Cross and other agencies. The efforts of MSF received special appraisal by the Commission representatives.