PM wants billion euros for Ebola

David Cameron at a summit in Milan yesterday

David Cameron at a summit in Milan yesterday

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THE PRIME Minister is asking European countries to put together a billion Euro package to tackle the Ebola epidemic.

He wants EU members to step up their efforts to tackle the virus when they meet at a summit in Brussels next week.

In addition to increased funding for the aid effort, the Prime Minister has asked for more medical staff to be sent to west Africa, better co-ordination on screening for the disease across the EU and sharing expertise on dealing with cases.

The Prime Minister has set out his plan in a letter to the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy ahead of their meeting on Thursday.

In his letter, Mr Cameron writes: “I believe that much more must be done. The European Council next week provides us with the opportunity to commit to an ambitious package of support to help reduce the rate of transmission in West Africa, to reduce the risk of transmission within Europe, and to pledge long-term support to assist with recovery, resilience and stability in the region.

“By co-ordinating our approach, I believe the EU and its member states can maximise the effectiveness of our response.”

The call echoes a plea from UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon yesterday for a “huge and urgent global response” to deal with the crisis, asking countries which have “the capacity” to provide funding now.

While some £12.4 million has been pledged to a trust fund set up by Mr Ban, only £62,000has so far been received.

A wider UN appeal has received £234 million in pledges - about 38 per cent of the amount sought - though some countries are also providing help directly to affected countries and humanitarian agencies.

Yorkshire MEP Linda McAvan, who has been working to speed up the European Union’s response to the crisis, said: “The EU has committed nearly €180 million to mitigating the effects of the virus in the worst affected countries, as well as coordinating aid from the 28 EU countries with international agencies to ensure that it gets to front line operations on the ground as soon as possible.

“As chair of the European Parliament’s International Development Committee I am pleased to see David Cameron is asking for robust commitments at the EU leaders summit this week

“We now have to work urgently to bring the virus under control in West Africa as well as giving health workers both here and in West Africa the best chance of protecting themselves.”

Public Health England said yesterday that screening for travellers arriving in Britain from the affected areas in West Africa is to be introduced at Manchester and Birmingham airports.

The medical ship RFA Argus set sail for West Africa yesterday loaded with three Merlin helicopters and a crew of around 350, including 80 medics and 80 Royal Marines.

RFA Argus, which has a fully-equipped 100-bed hospital on board, set sail from Cornwall and is due to reach the area by the end of the month .

Its facilities will not be used to treat Ebola patients but will be there in case any of the UK military and civilian personnel working in the region become ill or are injured during the course of the operation.

Researchers seeking to develop a vaccine warned it was unlikely to be available until well into next year. Dr Ripley Ballou, head of Ebola vaccine research at GlaxoSmithKline, said; “The vaccine is going to come too late for this epidemic.”

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