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EU 'calls for 5,000 doctors' to fight Ebola

Patrick Fort, AFP | Medical staff of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in a tent of the MSF Donka treatment centre in Conakry

The European Commission called Wednesday for 5,000 doctors to be sent from EU states to combat West Africa's Ebola epidemic, a European source with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.


"The situation is too serious and it needs an immediate response," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP, adding that senior EU officials were in contact with national governments to mobilise the response.

"Thousands of other medical caregivers were also being called for," the source said.

In a tweet, EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said he had so far reached 14 EU ministers, urging them to send more medical staff to Ebola-hit countries.

"Positive responses," he added, without providing more details.

The source said the EU's Ebola coordinator, Christos Stylianides, was also reaching out to ministers, with more funds and logistic materials on the list of demands.

European officials were casting a wide net, asking for both medical staff directly from national authorities as well as volunteers operating through charities.

Earlier this month, Andriukaitis and Stylianides took part in a joint trip to the three worst hit West African countries: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Upon their return, the officials made an immediate call for epidemiologists to do more to diagnose and track the disease's progression.

The EU as a whole has so far mobilised more than one billion euros ($1.3 billion) for the fight against Ebola, including 373 million euros from the Commission, the EU's executive arm in Brussels.

The death toll from the Ebola epidemic rose to 5,689 out of 15,935 cases reported in eight countries as of November 23, the World Health Organization announced on Wednesday.

Almost all cases and all but 15 deaths have been in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia - the three hardest-hit countries, which also reported 600 new cases in the past week, the WHO said in its latest update.

“The total number of cases reported in Sierra Leone since the outbreak began will soon eclipse the number reported from Liberia,” it said, adding that the capital Freetown remained the worst affected part of the former British colony.


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