The European Union's (EU) Ebola coordinator, Christos Stylianides, said that Europe must send more specialized medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, hygienists, disease specialists, psychologists and social workers, to West Africa and help reconstruct local health systems to tackle the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mali.
It has been difficult to find volunteers due to the risk of contagion for medical personnel. The EU has tried to address this issue by stepping up procedures for evacuating health workers. The EU's medical evacuation system is fully operational with four planes on stand-by in Luxembourg and the US, and nine countries ready to treat repatriated staff.
AdvertisementThe EU has so far mobilized more than one billion euros ($1.3 billion) for the fight against Ebola. Brussels is expected to provide more help, and Sweden has already announced that it will send 42 caregivers, while Greece is readying its first team of volunteers. A cargo plane bearing aid from the Netherlands is making its second trip to the area.
Stylianides, who recently returned from a trip to the affected region with EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said, "At a European level the mobilization is satisfactory but we must not relax our efforts." Both have urged the European capitals to speed up their work.
As the health systems of the affected countries are in a critical state, the EU is also looking forward to help with primary care in the affected areas, including maternal and child care, and treatment for other diseases like malaria and AIDS. Stylianides said, "If we fail in the medium term to rebuild them, we will have done nothing. We will have the same problem with other epidemics, for example cholera or malaria." He is expected to present an EU action plan by December end for treating the Ebola outbreak.