G20 countries call on financial institutions in Ebola fight

In a statement prepared by officials and released in Brisbane late on Saturday, the world’s 20 biggest economies say they are committed to doing “what is necessary” to control the spread of the disease and and address its economic and humanitarian costs.


“We will work to expedite the effective and targeted disbursement of funds and other assistance, balancing between emergency and longer-term needs,” the statement says.

The governments are calling on those who have not yet made funding, equipment or personnel available, to do so. 

“While commending ongoing work, we urge greater efforts by researchers, regulators and pharmaceutical companies,” the statement says, calling for more effort to improve diagnosis, vaccines and treatment. 

It praises the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for their support for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The IMF and World Bank have made $US300 million available for concessional loans, grants and debt relief.

“We ask (them) to explore new, flexible mechanisms to address the economic effects for future comparable crises.”

The group statement also presses the rest of the world into action.

“We invite all countries to join us in mobilising resources to strengthen national, regional and global preparedness against the threat posed by infectious diseases to global health.”

Earlier today, the US President Barack Obama warned against trying to close borders and shut out those from affected countries.

“We cannot build a moat around our countries and we should not try,” he said.


UN, aid groups step up pressure on G20 over Ebola

The United Nations Saturday called on G20 leaders to intensify their response to the deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa, warning of a major food crisis if they fail to act.

Speaking in Brisbane, where the two-day G20 leaders meeting is being hosted by Australia, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined with international aid agencies in urging concrete actions to fight the disease.

“I would also like to stress the need to intensify the international response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa,” Ban told reporters.

“As rates decline in one area, they are rising in others. Transmission continues to outpace the response from the international community. I urge the leaders of G20 countries to step up.”

Ban said the secondary impacts of the health crisis could spiral into other areas, including a food crisis, caused by disruption in farming due in countries affected by the outbreak including Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“That could provoke a major food crisis affecting one million people across the region,” he said.

The G20 is under pressure to adopt a hard-hitting financial response to the Ebola epidemic as health workers battling horrific working conditions plead for more resources.

A joint petition from international aid groups including Oxfam and Save the Children urged the G20 to band together to ensure the right resources are made available in terms of personnel, equipment and funding.

“This is a chance to stop Ebola in its tracks, and it must not be missed,” said Oxfam Australia chief Helen Szoke

Ban said while Ebola began as a health issue, it had developed into a security and economic one and needed massive resources in terms of finance, logistics and treatment.

“Because of the very extraordinary nature of this disease I think the international community has been panicked,” he said. “We should guard against this kind of panic.”

The World Health Organization said Friday that 5,177 people had so far died of Ebola across eight countries, out of a total 14,413 cases of infection, since late December 2013.

WHO has acknowledged though that the number of deaths is likely far higher, given that the fatality rate in the current outbreak is known to be around 70 percent.

The deadliest Ebola outbreak ever continues to affect Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone the most.