Norway doubles its anti-ebola effort

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Norwegian authorities are doubling the amount of money the country is donating to help fight the ebola epidemic, and sending personnel to fight the disease in West Africa. The move comes as fears rose that new ebola cases will break out in more places in Europe.

Health Minister Bent Høie and Prime Minister Erna Solberg reviewed anti-infection equipment and procedures at Oslo's biggest hospital last summer, as the anti-ebola campaign picked up. PHOTO: Statsministerens kontor

Health Minister Bent Høie and Prime Minister Erna Solberg reviewed anti-infection equipment and procedures at Oslo’s biggest hospital last summer, as the anti-ebola campaign picked up. PHOTO: Statsministerens kontor

Foreign Minister Børge Brende, Health Minister Bent Høie and Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, all from the Conservative Party, held a press conference Monday morning at which they confirmed more major funding for the anti-ebola effort. The new initiative will add NOK 89 million to the amount already earmarked for the campaign to fight the spread of ebola, bringing total aid to date to NOK 184 million (around USD 30 million).

Norwegian government officials said they will also contact their counterparts at the United Nations, in Great Britain “and other relevant players” to offer support for their operations through both financial aid, medial personnel and equipment.

“The situation is critical in ebola-hit countries in West Africa,” Brende said. “The outbreak continues to accelerate faster than the response. A dramatic and rapid upgrade of efforts is needed if the outbreak is to be contained.”

Høie noted that Norway’s health sector “has both equipment and personnel that can be made available.” He and Prime Minister Erna Solberg reviewed local preparedness at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo in August, where anti-infection equipment is standing by and health care personnel has trained to handle and prevent the spread of deadly diseases like ebola, which has been called “Africa’s plague.”

Høie said Norwegian health care officials “will now, in cooperation with the UN and others involved, identify what’s most useful for us to contribute.” Norway can also make isolation units at Ullevål available for international health care workers if needed.

Søreide said Norway may offer air transport and equipment needed to fly in more health care personnel to affected areas, and she said the Norwegian military already has “established a solution” with US authorities for medical evacuation of Norwegian citizens suspected or confirmed of being infected with the deadly virus. She said “intense efforts” were also underway to ready a Norwegian C-130 Hercules aircraft as a “back-up solution.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund