The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Minister of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights made a statement on the Ebola virus epidemic and the measures taken by France to help confront it.
They took stock of the assistance provided by France to the World Health Organization (WHO) in its fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
In response to the appeal launched by the WHO, the French government has firstly decided to release €1 million in aid, which will enable the funding of operations conducted by the WHO in the countries affected; and secondly, the Health Minister is to make staff available. She has in fact mobilized reserve staff (epidemiologists, resuscitators, infectologists, public health doctors etc.). Several teams will then be able to take turns to support local medical teams.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, France has been directly involved in the fight against the Ebola virus:
French research institutes – in particular INSERM [French National Institute of Health and Medical Research] and the Institut Pasteur – identified the outbreak of the epidemic and have been actively helping ever since to diagnose and monitor the disease;
Several French experts are present on the ground to support the care of patients, the control of the epidemic and the training of staff, alongside local, French and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly Médecins Sans Frontières.
France is taking an active part in the European and international effort to combat the epidemic:
It is a contributor to the aid provided by the European Union (EU), which now amounts to €11.9 million and which is enabling support for actions being carried out on the ground by NGOs, research institutes and laboratories;
It strongly backed the World Bank’s decision to invest €200 million in supporting health systems in West Africa in the short and medium term;
It is contributing to the WHO’s efforts to coordinate responses and step up health security at international level, particularly through its Lyon office.
France is showing solidarity with the African countries hit by the epidemic:
The French government has suggested, to the Guinean authorities, redirecting part of its debt reduction and development contract into support for strengthening the national health system;
Guinea is benefiting from €30 million of support provided by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Union under a programme devoted, in particular, to strengthening health services in the area of Guinea most affected by the epidemic.
The authorities are ensuring the protection of French nationals:
The diplomatic missions are keeping the French communities in the area (3,000 people in Guinea and around 100 in Liberia and Sierra Leone) regularly informed about the nature of the disease, preventive measures and the development of the epidemic. With just a few days to go until the beginning of term, schools in Guinea and Nigeria have been given preventive health advice;
Given the development of the epidemic and the situation of health systems in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the authorities are advising French residents whose presence is not essential to leave these countries or delay returning from holiday. They advise Air France temporarily to suspend its service to Freetown. Conversely, an assessment of the health situation in Guinea and Nigeria suggests that services to these two countries should be maintained;
In the face of the epidemic, the state is making an effort to guarantee French nationals that the utmost will be done to treat them in France, in the event of them being affected. To this end, the government has identified and made a list of the civilian and military evacuation capabilities likely to be mobilized, if need be.
The government thus reaffirms France’s commitment alongside the WHO and the African states to combating the Ebola epidemic and ensuring the protection of French nationals./.