Switzerland commits a further CHF 500,000 to fight Ebola epidemic in West Africa

By Switzerland - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

BERN, Switzerland, July 23, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The SDC is allocating CHF 500,000 to support Médecins Sans Frontières-Switzerland (MSF-Suisse) in its work to combat the Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This further contribution to MSF-Suisse is in addition to the annual amount the SDC gives to it and also to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is coordinating the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

In view of the spread of the Ebola epidemic across West Africa, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has decided to allocate CHF 500,000 to supporting the work of MSF-Suisse. The contribution is in response to an appeal launched by the NGO. It will enable MSF-Suisse to strengthen the measures it is employing to stem the spread of the virus and to treat those infected in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries affected by the epidemic.

The SDC facilitated the work of MSF-Suisse in Liberia when the first cases of infection appeared in March, providing accommodation in its humanitarian programme office in Monrovia for several members of the NGO. The contribution of CHF 500,000 is in addition to the CHF 6 million donated by the SDC to MSF-Suisse in 2014 to support its programmes around the world.

At the international level, the WHO is coordinating efforts to fight and prevent the spread of the Ebola epidemic. The WHO convened an emergency ministerial-level meeting in Accra at the beginning of July, with a view to stopping the spread of the virus as quickly as possible. The ministers present agreed that the current situation posed a serious threat for all the countries of the region and beyond, and the principle of coordinated action by all parties involved was adopted. Switzerland's total contribution to the WHO in 2014 amounted to approximately CHF 12 million.

Detected in West Africa four months ago, this epidemic has surpassed all other cases of Ebola virus propagation recorded on the continent, in terms of numbers infected, deaths and geographic spread. To date over 1000 cases including more than 600 deaths were recorded in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This is the first time the virus has spread across an entire region, reaching the major urban centres of Conakry and Monrovia, the respective capitals of Guinea and Liberia.

The SDC is continuing to monitor closely the situation on the ground via its network of partners and from its programme office in Liberia. Within Liberia, especially in Lofa County, which is the main centre of the epidemic, the SDC has undertaken several concrete measures to support the authorities and local partners, including emergency situation training for medical staff, distribution of protective material for health-care staff and support in disseminating preventive measures via printed brochures and local radio.