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EU announces new funds to strengthen Ebola preparedness in Burundi

Doctors carrying out Ring vaccination against Ebola Virus Disease in Kasese district, western Uganda recently. (PHOTO/File)

BUJUMBURA – The Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to spread in the east of the country with a high risk of a spill-over into the neighbouring countries. The European Union is stepping up its assistance to Burundi with €465,000 to further strengthen Ebola preparedness measures by authorities and aid organisations in the country.

Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, who is also the EU’s Ebola Coordinator, said: “To effectively fight the Ebola virus we do not only have to address the affected cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo but also increase our efforts to prevent the disease from spreading to neighbouring countries like Burundi. The European Union is therefore supporting ongoing Ebola preparedness measures in the country, including infection prevention and control. Everything possible must be done to avoid a further spread of the deadly virus.”

The new EU funding will be allocated through the World Health Organisation (WHO). It will strengthen the coordination, surveillance and response capacities to Ebola in high-risk districts in Burundi, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This new funding complements the existing financial support to the ongoing EU efforts in Ebola surveillance and awareness-raising via NGOs and UN.

Recently, WHO revealed that Ebola can no longer be called an incurable disease after two of four drugs being trialled in the major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Uganda were found to have significantly reduced the death rate.

ZMapp, used during the massive Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia Guinea and Uganda, has been dropped along with Remdesivir after two monoclonal antibodies, which block the virus, had substantially more effect, said the World Health Organization and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was a co-sponsor of the trial.

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