Ebola epidemic: One year of fighting the virus

EU Ebola Response Coordinator Christos Stylianides during his visit to the most affected countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Photo credit: European Union, 2014

Today marks one year since the World Health Organisation reported the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea. The epidemic has left deep scars on the lives of people not only in Guinea, but also in Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has been a year of continuous efforts by the affected countries and the international community to stop the virus ravaging West Africa.

EU Ebola Coordinator and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has retraced the progress that has been made in the fight against Ebola in his second report to the European Council.

The EU has been active in the response to the Ebola emergency from the start. Together with its Member States, the EU has mobilised close to €1.4 billion for emergency response and early recovery. Almost €1 billion has already been committed. Read the full report by Commissioner Stylianides.

“We have made real headway in the fight against Ebola, but getting to zero Ebola cases in all three countries needs to remain our absolute, overriding priority. We now need to sustain the presence of equipment and personnel on the ground“, reads Commissioner Stylianides’ report. “Recent trends from Sierra Leone and Guinea underline how easily those gains could be reversed. We are in a race against time.”

The international response to Ebola is now shifting from the extensive coverage that has characterized the early months of the outbreak to a more flexible response rooted at community level to detect, isolate and treat new Ebola cases. It also needs to respond to the persistent resistance of communities that healthcare workers face in some regions.

These and other remaining challenges in the fight against Ebola have been addressed at the high-level international conference which was co-hosted by the EU on 3 March 2015. It brought together the affected countries, regional stakeholders, the UN, the African Union and other key partners to take stock of the current fight against Ebola, coordinate further action and discuss the recovery process.

Background

West Africa is currently facing the largest and most complex Ebola epidemic on record. The virus has taken a heavy toll on life: 24 500 people have been infected; more than 10 000 have died. Beyond the human tragedy, the disease is having devastating effects on the security and economy of the whole region.

The European Commission coordinates the European response to the Ebola epidemic and provides affected countries with humanitarian aid, technical expertise, longer-term development assistance, investment in research for a vaccine and evacuation means for international humanitarian workers. The activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has enabled the rapid, coordinated deployment of emergency supplies and experts offered by the Member States.