DEVA: We must tackle the human failings that feed Ebola virus

16-Sep-2014 @ 11:00

Nirj Deva Nirj Deva

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Europe's national governments should hold an emergency meeting to co-ordinate efforts to combat the Ebola-virus tragedy in West Africa, MEPs are urged today.

A motion tabled at the European Parliament in Strasbourg by Conservative MEP Nirj Deva calls for a special meeting of the European Council drawing together relevant national ministers to co-ordinate the medical response and humanitarian aid from their respective nations.

"It is vital that this should happen in a collaborative and organised manner if our efforts are to have greatest impact," said Mr Deva, MEP for the South East.

His motion, tabled in the name of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group jointly with his Czech colleague Jan Zahradil, calls for long term measures to prevent future outbreaks.

It also calls on the African Union, harnessing World Health Organisation expertise and EU funding, to urge the West African states to establish an Emergency Army Medical Corps Response Mission, with units posted in international airports and at major border crossings in order to detect and contain suspected cases of infection.

More than 2000 people have died so far in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal and Nigeria during the current Ebola epidemic, which is the largest in history in terms of cases registered, number of fatalities and geographical coverage.

The EU Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department has pledged more than €147 million (£117m) in humanitarian and development aid towards medical equipment critical to diagnoses, sterile equipment, sealed suits and containment devices.

The Deva-Zahradil motion notes that the epidemic has been aggravated by the deep-rooted distrust and conspiracy theories among local population, which have seen them shun advice and help from their respective governments, international authorities and foreign health workers.

It also identifies the reliance on bush meat as a primary source of protein in West Africa as a key source of the disease – despite supposed bans on its sale and consumption.

Spelling out the need for information campaigns to raise awareness of symptoms and prevention measures, the motion looks to non-governmental organisations to build trust and popular co-operation with anti-Ebola measures.

Mr Deva said: "This appalling virus flourishes through human failings.  Political instability on the ground, superstition and mistrust, ineffective communication and  dependence on illegal bush meat to feed hungry families – all these have been factors.

"We must make sure that a fragmented response from the international community does not become another item on that list failings."

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