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Gates Foundation Commits $50 Million to Fight Ebola

  • VOA News

A health worker examines patients for Ebola inside a screening tent, at the Kenema Government Hospital about 300 km, (186 miles), from the capital city of Freetown in Kenema, Sierra Leone, Aug. 11, 2014.

A health worker examines patients for Ebola inside a screening tent, at the Kenema Government Hospital about 300 km, (186 miles), from the capital city of Freetown in Kenema, Sierra Leone, Aug. 11, 2014.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says it is committing $50 million to help combat the growing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Seattle-based foundation, set up by the billionaire founder of Microsoft Bill Gates to fight disease and poverty in poor countries, says it will immediately give funds to the United Nations and international aid agencies to buy badly-needed supplies and support emergency operations in affected countries.

It said it will also work with partners to speed up development of therapies, vaccines and diagnostic tests to better treat and prevent transmission of the vicious disease.

To date the foundation has already committed more than $10 million of the $50 million to fight the Ebola outbreak, including $5 million to the WHO for emergency operations and research and development assessments and $5 million to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Ebola virus, death toll among health care workers, by country, as of August 31, 2014

Ebola virus, death toll among health care workers, by country, as of August 31, 2014

In its statement, the foundation said it would also give an extra $2 million immediately to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support incident management, treatment, and health care system strengthening.

The foundation's pledge follows a call from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a stronger international response to the Ebola epidemic.

Also Tuesday, the United Nations allocated $3.8 million for the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service to help move aid, supplies, equipment and personnel in Ebola-struck countries. Reduced commercial travel in the region has hampered humanitarian operations there.

According to the World Health Organization, the disease has killed nearly 2,300 people this year, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In a positive development, doctors in Senegal say the country's lone confirmed Ebola patient has recovered. The patient, a student who arrived from Guinea last month, tested negative twice for the disease.

A total of nearly 4,300 cases have been reported across West Africa since the epidemic began in February.

The WHO has warned that the number of new cases is increasing exponentially in Liberia and that thousands of new patients can be expected there over the next three weeks.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Agency for International Development said it will give $10 million to transport and equip an African Union deployment of about 100 medical workers to the region.

U.S. government contributions toward fighting the Ebola outbreak now top $100 million.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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