Leading health experts today urge EU Member States to “mobilise all possible resources” to assist West Africans in controlling the Ebola epidemic, in an open letter published in The Lancet.
The letter is signed by 44 prominent academics, clinicians, and health professionals from 15 European countries1, including Bosse Pettersson - EuroHealthNet Vice-President, Caroline Costongs - EuroHealthNet Managing Director and Clive Needle - EuroHealthNet Policy and Advocacy Director. They call for European countries to take specific measures, including allowing health professionals to volunteer for temporary leave to assist with the crisis, and incentivising private companies to reverse travel restrictions to affected regions.
“We call on our governments to take an active and dedicated role, in partnership with west African countries and the UN, to ensure that the response over the next months is managed transparently and effectively, and in ways that support complementary goals for human and economic development in the region”, say the authors, pointing out that Europe’s strategic approach to its response to the epidemic is as just as important as its financial and material commitment.
The authors add that European countries should ensure that aid is channelled to organisations already on the ground, particularly those led or primarily staffed by West Africans. These groups have the strongest community roots and can best engage local populations in control efforts. At the same time, international donations need to support, rather than replace, local economies and social systems, donations need to be accountable, and affected populations need to benefit from their contributions to research.
According to the letter, “Since Ban Ki-moon entreated the international community to help on Sept 5, 2014, several countries have stepped forward with donations, equipment, and personnel. This global response is long overdue, but we fully expect all our European democracies (predicated on principles of solidarity, equity, and social protections) to make up for lost time with celerity, determination, and commitment. The Ebola epidemic represents a public health imperative; unchecked, it might very well become a geopolitical crisis”.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 The signatories’ countries are: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK
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