EU PROTECTS > Our Health > A humanitarian crisis: how the EU helped contain Ebola in Africa

The €2 billion provided by the EU helped contain one of the biggest Ebola outbreaks in history.

In 2014, a highly contagious and often deadly disease broke out in West Africa. By 2016 over 28,000 people had been infected with the Ebola virus, with more than 11,000 reported deaths. It was a race against time to contain an unfolding humanitarian disaster. The EU played a pivotal role in coordinating the assistance provided by European countries.

A humanitarian crisis: how the EU helped contain Ebola in Africa

With Ebola raging in West Africa, the EU helped hundreds of people from across Europe join forces to tackle the outbreak.

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Dr. Danny Asogun

European Mobile Laboratory, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital


“Our mobile lab was sent to Sierra Leone to test locals for Ebola. Between 2014-2016, we tested a total of 7,477 samples for the disease.” 

"Our work depended on EU assistance: logistical support from our European partners, the supply of diagnosis kits as well as the doctors and nurses who came to work with us."





“In a crisis, a single organisation cannot do the job alone.”

 - Dr Danny Asogun

Hans Kuhn

German, Altona Diagnostics


“Ebola is very difficult to contain because many symptoms mimic other diseases. This is why diagnosis is so important. When the disease hit West Africa in 2014, EU-supported mobile labs used our diagnosis kits to test patients with symptoms of the virus.”

"Thanks to EU support, our diagnosis tests can now deliver results in under 75 minutes.”

“Having ready-to-use diagnosis kits was very important.”

 - Hans Kuhn

John Ryan

Irish, Health department, European Commission


“We immediately started screening at exit points from West Africa, to ensure that people with Ebola symptoms were not boarding planes but airlines could keep flying to the region. Without this, medical equipment, doctors and NGO workers would not have been able to travel to West Africa.”







“In a crisis like this, it’s vital to stop an outbreak as quickly as possible in the country of origin.”

 - John Ryan

Juan Escalante

Italian, Emergency Response Coordination Centre, European Commission


“During the West African Ebola outbreak, we were a critical point of contact for the evacuation of humanitarian workers. As soon as we got a call, we’d activate the EU mechanism to coordinate the evacuation by aeroplane.” 

"This reassured our doctors and staff. When there’s a person out there in danger, you know you have to do everything to get them help.”



“It’s not only about evacuations – it’s about the signal you send to people that help is on its way”

 - Juan Escalante

Did you know?


The range of fatality rates for different strains of Ebola.

Swift response

 3 EU-funded laboratories (EMLabs) transported medicine, equipment and personnel to Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. During the outbreak, these units tested around 22,000 samples, of which 3,500 were positive for Ebola.

Emergency evacuation to Europe

The EU, its Member States and international organisations helped organise the medical evacuation of 38 international health workers who became ill or suffered a high risk of exposure while working in West Africa.

1.6 million

The number of Ebola vaccine doses available as a result of research and innovation funding programmes like Horizon 2020. EU research grants most recently contributed to developing new Ebola vaccines to counter the 2018 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

ECHO Flight

The EU’s humanitarian air service that transports aid and relief to Kenya, DRC, Mali and Uganda. Free of charge for humanitarian partners and aid organisations, ECHO Flight played a valuable role in containing the 2018 Ebola outbreak in DRC.


The number of human cases detected in EU countries in 2018 until October. The EU's infectious disease preparedness and response networks are set up to prevent the spread of different viral infections to Europe.


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