The latest outbreak and spread of Ebola in West Africa is a distressing development – especially for the families and communities directly affected, of course, but for government leaders and the global health community as well.
We admire the courage of frontline responders, such as Doctors Without Borders, who have done a heroic job with extremely limited resources. And we strongly support broader international efforts to respond swiftly to the crisis.
The seriousness of the Ebola outbreak is a powerful reminder that infectious diseases can strike people anywhere. It underscores the importance of a stronger global commitment to tackling diseases that disproportionately affect people in the developing world.
It also reinforces the commitment of partners and governments to strengthen primary healthcare systems in Africa and elsewhere. This is important not only to improve the health of communities generally, but also to enable health systems to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a major health crisis such as we are seeing now.
To help address the immediate need on the ground, the Gates Foundation has made a $1 million emergency response grant to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The grant will support UNICEF’s work in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to provide critical medical and and hygiene supplies, coordinate response efforts, and reach affected and at-risk communities with life-saving information.
Many of our partners are demonstrating tremendous leadership. We are in close communication with the World Health Organization, as well as the National Institutes for Health in the United States and the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom, who are funding work on potential treatments.
As we continue to closely monitor developments, our thoughts are with those suffering in recent days and weeks, and with the families who have lost their loved ones to this vicious disease.