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South Africa Launches Fund to Fight West Africa Ebola Outbreak

Delegates paste enlarged photos of health workers at work in affected west African countries prior to attending an Ebola preparedness conference in Johannesburg, Oct. 10, 2014.

The South African government, in collaboration with the country’s top private companies and donors, have unveiled the Ebola Response Fund to contribute in the fight against the intensifying Ebola outbreak in West Africa. More than a million dollars have been contributed in cash and resources.

The South African government and the country’s leading companies listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange set up the fund.

Speaking in Johannesburg Friday, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the country has an obligation to stand with the rest of the world in ensuring the 10-month-old epidemic is brought under control.

“Eighteen companies pledged services, goods and cash in the humanitarian crisis in West Africa," he said. "Up to so far the goods and services are to the value of 12 million rands.”

Some of the goods donated include ambulances and scooters that will be used by healthcare workers to get to remote areas in the most affected countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Some donors have also pledged to donate mobile crematoriums.

Lois Brutus, Liberia’s ambassador to South Africa, expressed a sense of desperation in her country’s battle against the deadly virus, which has no known cure.

“All we are advising countries, governments and the countries across the world, is to take note of the fact that the virus referred to as Ebola is indeed a pandemic of catastrophic proportions,” said Brutus.

Guinean Ambassador Mamadi Camara, who also spoke at the fund launch, thanked South Africa and urged the international community to stand with the people of West Africa.

“Every single day, people die in our countries. So when we get support now or tomorrow, it’s okay,” said Camara.

South Africa is now urging more companies and individuals to contribute to the fund.

Health Minister Motsoaledi assured South Africans that the government is taking all necessary measures to prevent Ebola from spreading here. The government has set-up a national response team in case of an outbreak. Eleven hospitals have been designated as Ebola treatment centers. And stringent screening measures are also being implemented at ports of entry.

South Africa has not recorded a single case of Ebola. The current epidemic - considered the worst in the history of the virus - has claimed nearly 3,900 lives and is expected to get worse in the coming months before it is under control.