The international community has done too little, too slowly to bring the Ebola epidemic under control, said Independent MEP for Dublin, Nessa Childers, while asking for more human and logistical resources on the ground.
Ms. Childers was speaking from Strasbourg, where the European Parliament debated the viral epidemic with the European Commissioners for Health and Humanitarian Aid. The EU Health ministers also discussed the Ebola crisis at a meeting in Luxembourg.
Ms. Childers said: “International indifference to the unfolding crisis while it seemed confined to Africa led to a slow, inadequate and uncoordinated response in the face of the spreading epidemic.
“The almost total lack of healthcare personnel and infrastructure in West African regions that were ravaged by a decade-long war stands in stark contrast with the successes in containing the disease which we witnessed in Nigeria, Congo and Senegal.
“However, Europe has so far shown very inadequate evacuation capabilities to treat infected health workers on the ground, and this has deterred the deployment of more volunteering staff.
“The Commission has mustered a modest facility through a private air ambulance contractor but we need Member States to pool their capabilities.
“Doctors Without Borders has been indefatigable in its frontline efforts, but the medical charity is reaching breaking point in the face of warlike conditions in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and is crying out for stepped up efforts on the part of governments and international organisations.
“Standing by and waiting to tackle the epidemic from the confines of each country’s own borders has not only shown a lack of solidarity but has also lacked in effectiveness. The response is still lagging behind the pace at which the epidemic currently spreads.
“The long-term context of this crisis is also an indictment of failed development policies carried out by the developed world. The World Bank is branding the international response so far a ‘miserable failure’ but they too must take responsibility for the consequences of their lending policies, in tandem with a push for healthcare privatisation and user-fees.”