Procedure : 2014/2842(RSP)
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Document selected : B8-0119/2014

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PV 18/09/2014 - 10.5
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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0107/2014

to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the EU’s response to the Ebola outbreak (2014/2842(RSP))

Charles Goerens, Gérard Deprez, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Louis Michel, Marietje Schaake, Javier Nart, Dita Charanzová, Catherine Bearder, Robert Rochefort, Frédérique Ries, Marielle de Sarnez, José Inácio Faria, Nathalie Griesbeck, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Juan Carlos Girauta Vidal, Martina Dlabajová, Petr Ježek, Fredrick Federley, Andrus Ansip, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Ivan Jakovčić, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen on behalf of the ALDE Group

B8‑0119/2014 European Parliament resolution on the EUs response to the Ebola outbreak (2014/2842(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the Statement on the EU’s response to the Ebola outbreak by the Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, of 5 September 2014,

–       having regard to the African Union (AU) mission ‘AU Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa’ (ASEOWA) established on 21 August 2014,

–       having regard to the United Nations Special Briefing on Ebola by Dr Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, of 2 September 2014,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world’s deadliest to date and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an international health emergency; whereas more than 2 100 people have died of the virus in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria this year and the situation is continuing to deteriorate rapidly, necessitating a coordinated international response; whereas the WHO also foresees that a peak of 20 000 fatalities could be reached;

B.     whereas the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has denounced ‘the inaction of the major countries’;

C.     whereas the UN Security Council will hold an urgent meeting on Thursday, 18 September 2014;

D.     whereas the Commission is seriously concerned at the continuing spread of this disease, which is not yet under control, and has continuously scaled up its response since March 2014;

E.     whereas all organisations on the ground have stressed the fact that in order to isolate and treat patients there is an urgent need not only for funds but also for operational capacity, including qualified human resources and logistic materials;

F.     whereas the Liberian Minister of Defence declared last week to the UN Security Council that it is the very existence of his country that is at stake;

G.     whereas the Commission monitors the situation through its Emergency Response Coordination Centre which should serve as a platform for the coordination of EU assistance;

H.     whereas Commissioner Borg said at a meeting with Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on 3 September 2014 that the EU ‘has a moral obligation to help the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak since they alone cannot tackle this issue’;

I.      whereas Commissioner Borg has announced that the Commission expects to increase funding by moving part of the funds available under development to humanitarian assistance; whereas the EU has allocated EUR 11.9 million in humanitarian aid to the epidemic since March 2014; while in late August the WHO announced a plan to the sum of EUR 77 million;

J.      whereas President Barack Obama plans to dramatically boost the US effort to mitigate the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including greater involvement of the US military by sending additional portable hospitals, doctors and healthcare experts, providing medical supplies, and conducting training for health workers in Liberia and other countries;

K.     whereas the WHO has warned that thousands more cases could occur in Liberia, which has been the country worst hit by the West African outbreak;

L.     whereas Ebola spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contacts with contaminated environments;

M.    whereas health workers are at the highest risk, owing to the Ebola virus’s means of transmission and the fact that they are operating without proper protective equipment and training;

N.     whereas conventional methods for controlling the outbreak did not have a sufficient impact;

O.     whereas the outbreak has revealed the inadequacy of the health systems of the countries affected and the urgent need for support to strengthen them;

P.     whereas the African Union is urging its member states to lift the travel bans put in place to contain the virus, saying that they could hurt the region’s economy;

Q.     whereas the current outbreak has a mortality rate of about 55 %;

R.     whereas serotherapy, which involves transfusing plasma from survivors of the Ebola virus, may have played a role in the remission and recovery of two American doctors infected with Ebola; whereas at the same time it is important not to underestimate the complications involved in implementing serotherapy on site, given the precarious conditions of hospitalisation and logistical problems such as maintenance of the cold chain;

S.     whereas the crisis has highlighted the weakness of the health systems in the countries concerned;

T.     whereas the start of clinical vaccine trials is imminent, but treatments and experimental vaccines are not expected to be widely available before the end of the year;

U.     whereas there are 4.5 million children under the age of five living in areas affected by the Ebola virus, and women (accounting for 75 % of cases) have been disproportionately affected by the virus because of their role as caregivers;

V.     whereas travel-associated cases of the disease are already appearing in other countries and risk creating new epidemiological challenges;

1.      Stresses that the Ebola epidemic is taking a devastating toll in the now five affected countries, i.e. Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and (the northern part of ) the Democratic Republic of Congo; emphasises that according to the WHO, this is the largest-ever recorded outbreak in terms of cases, deaths and geographical coverage and is continuing to accelerate;

2.      Considers that the international community must play a greater role while African countries must also take their share of responsibility; calls on the countries with the resources to respond to disasters to send additional medical, military and civilian capacities urgently to West Africa with a view to their rapid deployment;

3.      Considers that in a globalised world, the EU and the UN must agree on the type of intervention which will provide a response to a health emergency on a global scale;

4.      Urges that a ministerial meeting of the Council of the European Union be held in order to establish an emergency plan, to be implemented immediately, to mobilise a medical response to agree and provide humanitarian aid from the Member States, under the coordination of the Commission;

5.      Calls on the Commission to draw up needs assessments and country-specific plans to determine the demand for health personnel, mobile laboratories, laboratory equipment, protective clothing and the establishment of isolation wards;

6.      Stresses that this crisis highlights the fact that the international community, before tackling the ‘post-2015 agenda’, must address the ‘leftovers’ of the ‘Agenda 2015’ and deal primarily with health issues (and education) in developing countries;

7.      Stresses that the fight against Ebola must not lead to stigmatisation of survivor patients in communities or countries;

8.      Highlights the challenges for medical staff and warmly welcomes the great input and help of international organisations in controlling this outbreak; stresses that more doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and water and sanitation specialists - in short supply at the moment - are needed;

9.      Stresses that additional international efforts are needed to fund and coordinate existing research and development programmes working to develop Ebola treatments and vaccines, as well as for other diseases which are not of immediate commercial interest but could cause similar epidemics in future; calls on the Commission to urgently investigate whether existing EU research and development programmes may be able to further assist these efforts, especially in advancing the necessary clinical trials for existing candidate treatments;

10.    Emphasises the need to rapidly invest, through DG ECHO, in preparedness in the neighbouring countries in order to prevent and/or limit the spread of the virus in other fragile countries of West Africa;

11.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the presidents, governments and parliaments of the African Union, and the World Health Organisation.

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