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.
The 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.