Switzerland takes further measures to fight the Ebola epidemic


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Press release, 23.09.2014

Bern, 23.09.2014 - Switzerland is making an additional CHF 5 million available to support efforts to prevent the further spread of the Ebola epidemic and provide the people living in affected countries with the assistance they need. This announcement was made by the President of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter, in New York in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. The contribution is intended to support Switzerland's multilateral partner organisations in the field of humanitarian aid in their activities in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as its bilateral aid projects in Liberia.

In view of the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic and its continued spread in several West African countries, Switzerland has made a further CHF 5 million available for measures to contain the epidemic. This brings Switzerland's total support to CHF 9 million.

At the beginning of September, Swiss Humanitarian Aid together with the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) carried out a mission to Liberia to determine the areas on which the Swiss intervention should focus. It was decided to concentrate on the following three areas:

1. Containing the epidemic (treatment and prevention)
2. Strengthening the health-care system
3. Reducing the negative secondary effects (e.g. loss of food security)

Switzerland's contribution at the multilateral level includes support for the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, which ensures that air transport is available for the aid needed in the three affected countries. Switzerland also supports the regional emergency aid programme of the World Food Programme in order to maintain the supply of food to the most vulnerable population groups in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

At the bilateral level, Switzerland is supporting the activities of Médecins sans frontières Switzerland in the north of Liberia. In addition, on 9 September 2014, a shipment of 14 tonnes of aid supplies from Zurich arrived in the Liberian capital, Monrovia. In addition, Switzerland supports the preventive measures of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Benin, which are exposed to the risk of Ebola.

Switzerland is also contributing to the HUG's efforts to fight the Ebola crisis, in particular a feasibility study on a prevention programme in Liberia. The HUG is also working together with the University Hospital of Lausanne on, among other things, the development of two Ebola vaccines. Clinical studies are to be carried out at both hospitals – in coordination with the World Health Organisation and other research institutes abroad – in which the two vaccines will be used on humans for the first time.

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