EU to boost funding, Ebola case in Mali | News | DW | 24.10.2014
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EU to boost funding, Ebola case in Mali

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says EU leaders have agreed to boost funding to tackle Ebola in West Africa to one billion euros. There had been criticism that the wealthy Europeans were not doing more.

Rompuy tweeted on Friday that EU leaders on day two of their summit in Brussels had decided that the block would increase its anti-Ebola funding for West Africa from nearly 600 million euros to one billion ($1.26 billion).

Last week, former UN chief Kofi Annan of Ghana blamed "governments with capacity," saying the international community really only woke up when the disease "got to America and Europe."

Rompuy's announcement coincided with two new cases -- in Mali and New York -- and a warning from the UN's World Food Program (WFP) that the epidemic could turn into a food crisis in the nations affected -- Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The WFP said it had delivered more than 13,000 tons of food to 778,000 people in the three countries, but donors had provided only half of the funds required.

Arrival from Guinea

Mali's health ministry confirmed the vast former French colony's first case, saying a 2-year-old girl who had arrived from neighboring Guinea with relatives had tested positive for Ebola.

She had been placed in isolation in a clinic in the city of Kayes, which lies about 500 kilometers from Mali's capital Bamako. The relatives were in quarantine.

The governor of Kaye, Salif Traoré, closed all city schools on Friday and called on residents to strictly observe hygiene recommendations. Two other West Africa nations, Nigeria and Senegal, recently declared similar limited outbreaks to be ended.

Mali, where French troops intervenied in 2013 during uprisings by militant Islamists and Tuareg rebels, has a meager health system. It has only one clinic bed for every 10,000 citizens, and only one doctor for every 12,500 Malians.

The UN's Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) said it would send four more of its experts to join three who have already been evaluating Mali's defenses.

WHO spokeswoman said Malian authorities were monitoring 43 people, including 10 health workers, who had been in contact with the girl.

Volunteer medic infected

In New York, a Doctors Without Borders medic, who recently returned to the US after assisting Ebola patients in West Africa, has tested positive, despite precautions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo sought to reassure New Yorkers that they were safe.

"Being on the same subway car or living near someone with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk," de Blasio said at a news conference.

The infected medic, Dr.Craig Spencer, has been put in an isolation unit in New York's Bellevue Hospital on after experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms for the first time on Thursday. His fiancé has also been put in isolation.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said he had "participated in the enhanced screening" instituted at five US airports for all travelers returning from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

So far, nine people have been treated for Ebola in US hospitals since August. Just two -- nurses -- contracted the hemorrhaging virus within the US. One patient, a doctor, died in Dallas, Texas, on October 8.

Latest estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) put the number of Ebola cases in West Africa at nearly 10,000. Of these, 4877 patients had died. The WHO warns, however, that closer checks could expose a higher toll.

ipj/rg (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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