UK wants more done to fight Ebola

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Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The UK has maintained its pressure on other wealthy countries to do more to combat the spread of Ebola in west Africa.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the international community had to “take a stand” and European leaders “do need to do more”.

The Prime Minister has written to European Union leaders calling for them to double their contribution to one billion euro (£800 million) ahead of a summit later this week.

She told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme that the UK had committed £125 million to the effort but other countries were lagging behind.

” I think they do need to do more and that will be the message the Prime Minister takes to the European Council,” she said.

“We are seeing some initial commitments from countries like Germany, for example, France is leading the efforts in Guinea, but we need a much, much broader international response both here in Europe and more broadly internationally.”

She added: “It really is time for the international community to take a stand, to really get involved with this and to join countries like the US and the UK in particular who are leading efforts on the ground.”

Ms Greening said it made sense to take action now rather than let the infection spread further within west Africa.

“That’s been the UK’s message from the word go. But that does mean more support more broadly from the international community and that includes right here in Europe.”

Explaining the British effort to combat the virus in Sierra Leone, she said: “We know if we are going to stop and combat the spread of Ebola we have to get to patients early and treat them early. That means community care in particular.

“So now working on the ground with communities to provide faster care and then alongside that improving how burials take place.”

She added: “We should not underestimate that ultimately if we don’t combat Ebola it will pose a risk more broadly internationally.

“The cases that we saw in the States, in Spain, were a wake-up call to people here in Europe that actually we do need to be taking action here to make sure we have got the necessary precautions in place.”

She said the UK was “well prepared” for the “handful” of cases experts had predicted were likely to occur in the country.

Screening is being introduced at British airports and Ms Greening said “the PM will also be talking with other European partners about what they can do to minimise the risk”.

“The risk to the UK remains low,” she said. “In the meantime the most effective thing we can do is the work that we are doing with Sierra Leone to help them combat Ebola there.”

Oxfam has warned that more troops, funding and medical staff are urgently needed to prevent the Ebola outbreak becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”.

The UK-based charity said there was less than a two-month window to curb the spread of the deadly virus but there remained a “crippling shortfall” in military personnel to provide logistical support across west Africa.

More than 4,500 people have died from the disease, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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