Response to the Ebola epidemic - France on the front line.
On 18th September 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) reckoned 5,480 cases and 2670 deaths related to Ebola virus in five West African countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal), with a mortality rate of 50%.
Beyond the human tragedy, this epidemic is not only a direct threat towards the health systems of involved countries, but also for their economies and stability. Consequently, the Republic of France has got highly involved from the beginning of the crisis related to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
The research institutes that confirmed the epidemic on 21st March were indeed French (Institut Pasteur, INSERM). And from that moment, several scientists form the Institut Pasteur have been offering their help to the international assistance plan implemented in collaboration with the Guinean ministry of Health.
In addition, France has been involved financially in order to support the fight against the spread of the virus to a tune of about 35 M EUR (4 Bn KES) in bilateral help. This number has been more than doubled by its multilateral contributions to reach more than 70 M EUR (8 Bn KES).
This assistance is focused on the field, especially in Guinea, according to the United-Nations recommendations :
In Forest Guinea, the epidemic epicentre, a treatment facility will soon be opened following a decision of the President of France. The centre will be financed via a 5 M EUR (572 M KES) budgetary aid. It will be strengthened by continuation of the local health services capacity building programme (financed through the French Agency for Development to a tune of 10 M EUR (1 Bn KES) ;
An expertise centre from Institut Pasteur (4 M EUR/ 457 M KES) will also be established to cover the whole country and its sub-region ;
25 experts from the French Preparedness and Sanitary Emergency Response Establishment (EPRUS) are getting ready to be sent on the field, as well as a high-level expert, to the National Coordination of Ebola in Guinea ;
In addition, France has committed to supply several tons of medical equipment and individual protections and for the supply of exceptional food aid via World Food Programme (WFP).
France also supports prevention actions in the region, particularly by helping to strengthen the health systems of neighbouring countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon).
French NGOs are similarly present on the field and pay a high price to their engagement. Médecins Sans Frontières has been one of the NGOs that warned from the beginning about the magnitude and seriousness of this epidemic. One of its staff’s, a voluntary French nurse in charge of patients in Liberia contracted the virus.
Lastly, France has doubled its efforts in mobilising the international communities in order to be quickly able to pool the necessary resources to restrict this epidemic which scope has dramatic consequences.
Following a request from France on 15th September 2014, the European Commission urged the EU member States to make up for lost time in the fight against Ebola in a meeting that enabled to release some new contributions and to bring forward a French project to centralise medical evacuation procedures. France called upon member States to count their contributions in the meantime in order to supplement the initial amount of about 150 M EUR already provided by Brussels.
France has also offered its support to WHO and the UN that provide coordination of the international community’s efforts. Mrs. Annick Girardin, Secretary of State in charge of development and Francophonie, went on a field visit to Guinea with Mr. Nabarro, coordinator of the United Nations, in order to reaffirm French solidarity to the authorities, to the actors on the ground and to the medical staff.