Efforts must be stepped up to contain Ebola to prevent it becoming a global threat, including ensuring proper care of international healthcare workers, European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday.
"A united, coordinated and increased effort is needed in order to contain the outbreak," the 28 ministers said in a statement, adding that affected and neighbouring countries must be given "the necessary and appropriate assistance".
AdvertisementTheir conclusions will be taken up Thursday and Friday at an EU leaders summit in Brussels where the fight against Ebola will once again dominate proceedings.
The foreign ministers agreed the European Commission should "guarantee appropriate care for international health responders," including the option of medical evacuation to ensure frontline staff get the best care for a disease which has neither vaccine nor cure.
This has been a key issue in trying to boost the number of foreign medical workers in efforts to contain Ebola which has so far claimed more than 4,500 lives in the worst affected countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The ministers also said there was a need to set up a pool of volunteer health experts from EU states "for quick and targeted deployment in health crises".
Additionally, the EU should target aid to affected countries so as to boost their own defences against the disease, the statement said.
Warning that the "epidemic continues to grow exponentially," the foreign ministers called on the international community to meet the $1.0 billion sought by the UN.
The EU said it had put up some 500 million euros so far, aiming to support governments in the affected countries in efforts to ease the impact on their economies and essential services.
As Ebola has spread, there has been growing concern it could undercut already fragile economies and lead to a breakdown in government services, with potentially disastrous results for control of the disease.