The Ebola virus is ravaging West Africa, treatments are inadequate, and the world waited too long to do anything about it. That’s the message of a new video from the One Campaign, an international nonprofit co-founded by U2 frontman Bono. The video features more than a dozen celebrities, including Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman and Ellie Goulding, looking silently into the camera, one after the other. Their stares are punctuated by the message,"This is what what waiting looks like."
The video has no music or interviews, just one takeaway: It's time to act. "The initial response to the Ebola outbreak was too slow and too uncoordinated," One President and CEO Michael Elliot said in a statement. "Some countries have now stepped up to lead in a big way –- with traditional donors like the U.S., U.K., France and Germany all making meaningful contributions -- but this is a global crisis and it demands a global response. While our first priority needs to be containing this outbreak, it is equally important that the world take steps now to invest in strengthening health systems so that future tragedies of this kind will be stopped in their tracks.”
Countries around the world have pledged millions to help contain Ebola in West Africa, but response on the ground has often been delayed. The U.S. has contributed the most of any donor country, with more than $206 million going to fight Ebola on the ground so far. The U.K. has donated nearly $19 million toward containment efforts. Germany, Australia, Japan and Sweden have contributed between $11 million and $17 million each. Much of the funding has gone toward providing adequate protective gear for health workers and more beds for patients in West Africa.
At last count, the Ebola virus has infected more than 14,380 people across West Africa, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Additionally, 20 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria, one case each in Senegal and Spain, and four cases in the U.S. Several cases were recently found in Mali, and health officials fear a “large number” of people may have been exposed there. A total of 5,438 deaths from the virus have been recorded since the epidemic began in March, but experts have said the number could be much higher because of underreporting.
Other famous philanthropists are stepping up and taking aim at Ebola. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated nearly $6 million to fund experimental drug treatments, including testing whether blood transfusions from survivors of the disease can successfully treat Ebola patients. Health experts hope collecting blood plasma from survivors will become “a tool for a future epidemic,” Bill Gates told the Associated Press.