European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to appoint an Ebola coordinator to bring together resources and funding to tackle the deadly disease before it becomes a global disaster.
“My colleagues all agree that the idea of an Ebola coordinator is a good one,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters after a meeting with EU counterparts in Luxembourg.
“The person will be named in the coming days,” added Fabius.
The coordinator will be based at the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre in Brussels.
The leaders of the 28 EU nations will meet on Thursday and Friday at a summit in Brussels where Ebola will be a major concern, having taken more than 4,500 lives in the worst affected west African countries, while also showing up in the United States and Europe.
The EU move comes three days after US President Barack Obama named attorney Ron Klain as the new White House “Ebola czar” to coordinate the US response to the outbreak.
With a fatality rate running at 70 percent and no known cure or vaccine, world leaders are rushing to get ahead of Ebola before it can establish a foothold outside Africa.
Appointing an EU coordinator is an important step “because everybody has to be on board to fight this epidemic,” Fabius said.
The mounting death toll in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is cause for grave concern, with the “figures rising… exponentially”, he added.
Earlier Monday, the World Health Organization declared Nigeria — Africa’s most populous country — Ebola-free, showing what can be done if action is taken promptly.