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Ebola - A global security challenge

Public health 28-10-2014 - 10:15 / Updated: 05-03-2015 - 17:37

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa has proved to be the largest epidemic of the disease on record, with more than 23,000 people infected and 9,000 dead since March 2014. The EU and its member states have so far made about €1.2 billion available to respond to the Ebola crisis, offer long-term support and help the development of both treatments and vaccines. Read on to find out more on the EU´s response to the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola. (Read more: EU response to the worst-ever Ebola outbreak)

The Ebola outbreak wreaking havoc in a number of West African countries since last year has been the most lethal one since the disease was discovered in 1976. On 4 March, the EP’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) unit organised a hearing with experts to talk about how Ebola should be tackled, the need for research and what lessons should be drawn from the current crisis. (Read more: Ebola crisis: "We really need to learn our lessons")

Christos Stylianides, the commissioner for humanitarian aid, will today discuss the situation in Ebola-affected countries with the EP's development committee, following his fact-finding mission to West Africa. The meeting focuses on assessing progress and identifying what further measures are needed to tackle the outbreak. Ahead of the debate we asked Gilles Pargneaux, a French member of the S&D group, his thoughts about the situation. Follow the meeting live on our website from 17.00 CET. (Read more: Debate: Ebola fact-finding mission to West Africa)

What started as an Ebola outbreak in West Africa has evolved into a world-wide threat, with the first European case having been reported in Spain. MEPs labelled the outbreak "a global security challenge" in a resolution adopted on 18 September. Europe's response to the Ebola crisis will be debated during the plenary session again on 20 October. We discussed the issue with the chairs of the development and public health committees. (Read more: Ebola: from local outbreak to global epidemic)

The risk of Ebola spreading in Europe might be low, but the outbreak has proved disastrous for the affected African countries. The Ebola crisis was discussed by the public health committee on 5 November, during which Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO's regional director for Europe, said that European countries were well prepared for the disease. The development committee also debated the outbreak on 3 November with ambassadors of the affected countries, who stressed the need for a post- Ebola Marshall plan. (Read more: Ebola: from minor outbreak to humanitarian disaster in Africa)

The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has been underrated by the international community and now constitutes a challenge to global security, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. As the affected countries face socio-economic collapse, the deployment of military assets under the UN flag should be considered and access to existing treatments speeded up, they add. (Read more: West Africa’s Ebola outbreak is a global security issue, says Parliament)

The EU has a “moral obligation” to help the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, said health commissioner Tonio Borg. Speaking during a meeting with the Parliament's public health committee on 3 September, he added: "The more we contain it, the less the chances are for the disease to reach Europe." MEPs agreed more needed to be done, but highlighted there were budget limitations. They also underlined the importance of financing research. (Read more: Tonio Borg: EU has "moral obligation" to help countries affected by Ebola outbreak)

REF. : 20141024TST76227
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