Press release

Ebola virus: PM calls on European Council for action

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

David Cameron has written to members of the European Council asking leaders to agree a new package of measures to tackle the Ebola crisis.

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The Prime Minister has called on European leaders to agree on an ambitious package of measures to tackle the Ebola crisis when they meet in Brussels next week.

In a letter to the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and fellow leaders the Prime Minister has warned that “we need to act fast to contain and defeat this deadly virus”.

The Prime Minister continues:

If we do not significantly step up our collective response now, the loss of life and damage to the political, economic and social fabric of the region will be substantial and the threat posed to our citizens will also grow.

The Prime Minister seized the opportunity of meeting European and Asian leaders in Milan yesterday to urge the international community to step up its response to the crisis and in the letter he urges European leaders to agree at next week’s summit an ambitious package of measures including:

  • raising contributions from the EU and its member states up to €1 billion in total
  • mobilising at least 2,000 workers to go the region to tackle the disease, including 1,000 clinical staff, by mid-November
  • increased co-ordination on screening at ports of entry to Europe
  • sharing best practice on handling cases to help to reduce the risk of further transmission within the EU

The UK is also proposing that the EU could help further reduce the transmission rate in West Africa by:

  • better co-ordination amongst member states to ensure weekly flights from Europe to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia for front line health staff
  • offering a duty of care package for health workers at European run or funded facilities that would, if they become infected, guarantee treatment based on clinical advice to a European standard in country or medical evacuation
  • ensuring the global supply of personal protective equipment
  • improving testing for Ebola and further staffed labs

In the longer term, we believe that at least €100m of the €1 billion EU contribution should be used to strengthen the resilience and long term recovery of the region with spending invested in healthcare systems, education and regional preparedness. And to help countries get back on their feet, we want to relax EU procurement rules on Ebola projects and equipment.

Calling on European leaders to agree this package, the Prime Minister writes:

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is an issue that requires a substantial global response. The rapid spread of the disease and recent cases outside the West African region demonstrate the magnitude of the task at hand. The World Health Organization (WHO) forecast 20,000 cases in West Africa by November 2014.

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 UK efforts to tackle Ebola so far include:

  • £125 million financial contribution - the second highest after United States of America
  • providing more than 700 treatment beds across Sierra Leone - tripling the country’s current capacity
  • working with WHO to train more than 120 health workers a week and to develop a WHO dedicated Ebola training facility that trains over 800 health workers a week
  • 750 troops deployed to Sierra Leone to help establish treatment units and training facilities
Published 18 October 2014