Member states meet €1 billion Ebola aid pledge

Ebola victim. Guinea, 2014. [European Commission/Flickr]

The European Commission on Thursday (6 November) announced that member states have now pledged more than €1 billion in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, going beyond the target set by EU leaders at the European Council.

During an EU summit on 24 October, the Council agreed to allocate €1 billion in assistance to stem the epidemic. Meanwhile, the European Commission, together with the European pharmaceutical industry, launched a €280 million call for proposals to boost research on Ebola, address the current epidemic, and manage future outbreaks.

“The EU is determined to help find a solution to Ebola,” said Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas. “We are putting our money where our mouth is and boosting EU research on Ebola with an additional €280 million,” he said.

“With this funding from Horizon 2020 and our industry partners, we are stepping up the development of new vaccines and medications to help save lives around the world,” he added.

The EU is also sending more material aid and providing new capacity for medical evacuations of international aid workers in its biggest single operation of transporting material assistance to the affected countries

A Dutch ship yesterday sailed from the Netherlands, loaded with ambulances, mobile hospitals, laboratories and other equipment.

The cargo was provided by nine member states; Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and the UK, and UNICEF. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is coordinating the operation.

Meanwhile, the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides, and the Commissioner for Health, Vytenis Andriukaitis, are heading to the Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

“By pooling our resources, Europe’s efforts make a much bigger difference on the ground. At a moment when the availability of medical evacuations is such a crucial factor for encouraging more medical workers to join the Ebola response, I particularly welcome Luxembourg’s leadership on this priority with the contribution of specially equipped planes,” Stylianides said.

Luxembourg has become the first EU member state to commit aeroplanes for European medical evacuations of international humanitarian workers diagnosed with Ebola. The two planes have been retrofitted, with co-funding by the Commission, which will also finance the bulk of the transport costs for evacuations under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

More than €1 billion was pledged by member states and the European Commission to fight the Ebola crisis. The Council has appointed Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides as the EU Ebola Coordinator.

Mobile laboratories, humanitarian experts, and specialists in dangerous infectious diseases have been deployed to the region.

The €280 million call for proposals, launched by Commission and the European pharmaceutical industry, is under the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

€140 million will come from Horizon 2020, the EU's framework programme for research and innovation, and €140 million from the pharmaceutical companies which are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

The research will involve large-scale clinical trials of new vaccines in the Ebola-affected countries as well as the development of fast diagnostic tests and new approaches to manufacture and distribute vaccines.

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