Countries must step up efforts to tackle the spread of Ebola in west Africa by providing more troops, funding and medical staff to prevent it from becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”, Oxfam has warned.
The charity said the world had less than two months to curb the deadly virus, which has killed 4,500 people, but noted a crippling shortfall in military personnel to provide logistical support across the countries worst affected – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Its stark warning came as Britain and the US said the international community will be responsible for a substantial loss of life in west Africa and a greater threat across the world unless the financial and medical response to Ebola was greatly increased. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said a failure to respond could turn Ebola into “a scourge like HIV or polio”.
Oxfam said that while Britain was leading the way in Europe’s response to the epidemic, countries which have failed to commit troops – including Italy and Spain – were “in danger of costing lives”.
The charity said it was extremely rare to call for military intervention but troops were desperately needed to build treatment centres, provide flights and offer engineering and logistical support.