“We need a standby force of medical experts”

20.10.2014 - Interview

Guest article by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the fight against Ebola, published in the BILD newspaper on 20 October 2014.


We have been occupied with Ebola for months now. The truth is that neither the world, nor Europe, nor we were well enough prepared. It took too long to recognise the danger and then to mobilise the right response.

Everyone is called upon to act: the UN, the EU, the G7. And we are tackling this now together; we have joined forces and pooled our resources – over 100 million euros from Germany alone. We haven’t won yet, but we are now doing what needs to be done to defeat the virus. We are also aware, though, that this won’t be sorted out overnight.

My heroes are the many volunteers in West Africa who are fighting for the life of each person infected. From Germany, the Red Cross, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief, the Bundeswehr and others are all doing their utmost. Our Special Representative, Walter Lindner, has visited the area himself to see the situation first-hand and to coordinate German relief efforts.

The world cannot allow itself to be unprepared in the face of such a situation again. We need to move now to make sure it is not. I will be proposing to my fellow EU foreign ministers today that we start drawing up plans for a standby force of medical experts which can be deployed around the world. These medical teams will need to be ready to go anywhere, to every corner of the planet, at any time, to nip such dangerous epidemics in the bud.

This article is reproduced here by kind permission of the Axel Springer Verlag.

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