In the wake of the outbreak in West Africa, there is a growing concern that the EU is not taking enough steps to curb the spread of the deadly disease, which is currently believed to be the world’s deadliest.
On Tuesday, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso called on the EU to put an end to the “vicious cycle” of the epidemic, which has killed more than 9,000 people in the region.
“The outbreak of Ebola is a new and dangerous pandemic with no precedent, and we need to make sure that we are in control of it,” Barrose told reporters on the sidelines of the European Parliament.
“We need to build a framework to tackle this disease and to prevent new ones from happening.”EU health ministers met on Tuesday to discuss the potential impact of the disease on the bloc’s finances and work on new measures to combat it, including the adoption of an emergency budget.
The EU has already been hit by a series of scandals, including one over the handling of millions of euros of funds earmarked for Ebola response.
The bloc’s biggest member, France, has also been criticised for failing to provide enough funding for frontline health workers to deal with the outbreak.
The bloc has also faced accusations of being insufficiently open to international aid, and its stance on asylum is also being criticised.
“There is no doubt that the Ebola crisis is an urgent issue and we will continue to be vigilant about its prevention and control,” Barrese said.EU officials say the current outbreak has been caused by a combination of factors including a surge in infections from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the use of an experimental treatment known as ZMapp.
“For the first time since the disease first emerged in 1976, the outbreak is spreading into more developed countries and the crisis has spread to other parts of the world,” EU commissioner for health Michalis Koutroussis said on Tuesday.
“This is a humanitarian crisis, not a political crisis, but we have to do everything to stem the spread,” he said.
A growing number of countries in the EU have declared states of emergency as a result of the virus, with some European countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria also banning public gatherings, transport and travel.EU foreign ministers are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss what measures they can take to combat the outbreak and how the EU can share more information with other countries.