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Ebola – one year on

Written by Nicole Scholz
© JPchret / Fotolia

This week (3 March) Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, along with Togo, host a high level international conference in Brussels on the fight against Ebola. Delegations will attend from all the West African states, EU Member States, UN agencies, the World Bank, IMF and the various NGOs, private-sector actors (such as pharmaceutical companies) and research institutes. At this stage in the epidemic, participants will be keen to identify priorities and coordinate the humanitarian aid offered by the international community. High on the agenda will be lessons learned for prevention of further outbreaks, and progress on finding both treatments and vaccines.

The Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel has convened a workshop in the European Parliament in Brussels for the day after the conference, on 4 March, drawing together experts from international institutions, NGOs and European political parties to discuss this issue in depth. The workshop will focus on the importance of surveillance, rapid diagnostic testing for Ebola and the prospects for vaccination against the disease. It also provides an opportunity to deliberate upon the importance of Ebola research alongside competing research priorities and the lessons already being learned to prevent future crises from arising.

This latest outbreak left more than 9 500 people dead and families and fragile economies shattered, mainly in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

As yet, there is no approved medicine to treat Ebola. Simple, yet highly effective containment measures remain the cornerstone of efforts to control the outbreak. Development of therapeutic approaches is progressing rapidly, but may not be in time to change the course of this disastrous epidemic. Trials for an Ebola vaccine have started, but are still in their early stages.

The EU and its Member States pledged €1.2 billion to finance efforts to fight the disease, and a further €414 million for emergency measures, long-term support and the development of both treatments and vaccines.

Lire notre note “En bref”: “Ebola – un an après“.

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