, BRUSSELS, September 5- The European Union on Friday announced 140 million euros ($183 million) in funds to fight the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, a sharp increase over its previous aid as the outbreak worsens.
The commission said the aid was necessary to boost measures to stop the “worst ever outbreak of the epidemic” from ravaging Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
“Today the commission is unveiling a 140 million euro package of funding for all the countries currently affected by the Ebola virus,” European Commission spokesman David Sharrock told reporters.
The aid is designed to boost overstretched health services, fund mobile laboratories for detecting the disease, safeguard the provision of food, water and sanitation as well as help the broader economy and strengthen overall public services.
“An essential part of halting the epidemic is getting support to the health services,” said Sharrock, spokesman for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
About a third of the assistance would go towards strengthening healthcare systems in affected countries, he said.
The formal announcement was made by EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, during a trip to Benin.
Sharrock said the EU had previously committed 12 million euros in aid to fight Ebola, with the sharp increase reflecting the gravity of the crisis.
“A crisis caused by the Ebola virus is threatening the entire region. This is the worst outbreak ever of the epidemic,” Sharrock said.
The World Health Organization put the official Ebola death toll at 1,841, out of a total of 3,685 cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said the situation in the Ebola zone was “going from bad to worse.”
“We are helping make a difference on the ground, but the needs are outpacing the international community’s capacity to react,” she said.
“We need to pool our efforts and provide adequate air transportation and medical equipment to our partners in order to fight this menace.”