Ebola: A permanent EU rapid response mechanism to swiftly tackle future crisis

ebola stopThe European Parliament called on the EU to establish a permanent rapid response mechanism which would help tackle future crisis like the Ebola one, and asked for a long-term focus on development assistance in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. MEPs said there is a need to correct «development policies which have contributed to ineffective health systems».

«We cannot let down our guard, because this virus is intelligent unfortunately, and might still manifest itself in other forms than the ones we already know. So let’s also be aware of our moral obligation to make the right to access to treatment of disease everywhere in the world a principle of our political action and let’s help Africa to take charge of its own development, especially in terms of research and development in the area of health», said the rapporteur Charles Goerens (ALDE, LU), during the debate prior to the vote.

A permanent EU rapid response mechanism

MEPs call for the establishment of a «permanent European rapid response capability» comprising experts, laboratory support staff, epidemiologists, logistics facilities and mobile laboratories that can be deployed swiftly.

They also ask from the EU to support the establishment of a «network of monitoring points in developing countries» to make it possible to detect as quickly as possible new cases of infectious disease that could develop into pandemics.

EU’s long-term response

MEPs say that once emergency assistance is no longer required, the EU’s long-term response should focus first on development assistance, which will need to include investment in the health sector, domestic governance and state-building and then on the assistance that is essential in order to get the three countries’ economies back on their feet.

Lessons learned from the crisis

MEPs criticize the «slow international response to the crisis during the first months», stressing however the response and commitment of the EU and its member states since March 2014 to help contain the spreading of the virus.

They highlight the crucial importance of prevention and information campaigns in managing the crisis and deplore that «past adjustments and reforms and inequitable development policies have contributed to ineffective health systems». They urge the Commission to help the three countries affected to develop their own public health systems and call on international donors to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) to these countries through country systems such as budget support.

The resolution was passed by 632 votes to 11, with no abstentions