Addis Ababa/Brussels. — The African Union was yesterday preparing to send a team of 30 health workers and other specialists to help fight an Ebola outbreak that killed more than 2 400 people in West Africa.The volunteers are epidemiologists, clinicians, public health specialists and communications personnel.
They are set to be deployed in Liberia, the country hardest hit by the epidemic, from September 17.
A second batch of volunteers will be deployed to Sierra Leone in the next few weeks, the AU said in a statement.
“This is the time for Africa to show solidarity with the affected countries,” said AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko.
In Brussels, meanwhile, the European Union was holding a meeting with ministers and other high-level officials to co-ordinate the bloc’s response to the Ebola epidemic.
Contributions to help fight the outbreak were expected to be discussed, including transport options, field hospitals, doctors and medical equipment.
“We are today in front of one of the worst epidemics the world has ever known,” EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said as the talks got underway.
“We are here today to confirm Europe’s commitment and willingness to win the fight against Ebola.”
“The outbreak has been a perfect storm — it has hit the poorest regions in Africa, some of them have just emerged from a civil war,” EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg added.
“Our responsibility, indeed our obligation is to work tirelessly to isolate the disease.”
The risk of Ebola spreading within the EU is considered to be very low, but “nevertheless we need to remain alert”, Borg said.
The EU’s executive, the European Commission, has so far contributed US$186 million to help fight the outbreak in West Africa. — Sapa.