* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The European Union is increasing by an additional €8 million its efforts to contain the spread of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This is the fourth increase of EU assistance for this crisis. It brings the Commission's aid in 2014 to fight the Ebola epidemic, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has just declared a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern", to €11.9 million.
"We are determined to fight the further spread of the deadly epidemic. Many lives depend on our immediate assistance. Our support will ensure urgently-needed healthcare and the strengthening of preventive measures through our partner organisations which are helping around the clock to provide life-saving assistance to the victims," said Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
The additional EU funding will provide immediate healthcare to the affected communities and help contain the spread of the epidemic. The aid will be channelled through the European Commission's humanitarian partners on the ground, including UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations.
Humanitarian experts from the Commission have been deployed to the affected countries to undertake the assessment and coordinate with the health authorities and humanitarian partners on the ground.
The new funding comes from the European Development Fund.
The Ebola epidemic is taking a devastating toll in the four affected countries, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. To date, the outbreak has seen 1711 cases and 932 deaths, including many health workers. Cases have been suspected in other West African countries but tested negative. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the largest recorded outbreak in terms of cases, deaths and geographical coverage.
The European Commission allocated humanitarian funding in response to the Ebola outbreak as early as March this year. The response has already been scaled up – most recently in July. The funding has enabled WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to sustain and expand their actions.