The presidents of three Ebola-stricken West African nations made urgent pleas for money, doctors and hospital beds at a meeting of the World Bank yesterday.
Their pleas were met with promises that more aid would be sent quickly.
“Our people are dying,” said president Ernest Bai Koroma, via a video from Sierra Leone to an Ebola summit at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington.
Mr Koroma described devastating effects of “this evil virus”: children made orphans, doctors and nurses dying, and an overwhelmed medical system that was unable to keep up with the demands on it.
He said the world’s response had not kept pace with the spread of Ebola, and “a tragedy unforeseen in modern times” was threatening everyone.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a 20-fold increase in aid to fight the outbreak and representatives pledged medical evacuations for health care responders who catch the virus.
“For those who have yet to pledge, I say please do so soon,” he said. “This is an unforgiving disease.”
At the meeting in Washington, president Alpha Conde of Guinea asked for money, supplies, medicine, equipment and training of health care workers.
“Our countries are in a very fragile situation,” he said.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia also appeared by video link to seek a rapid increase in aid.
World Bank president Jim Yong Kim endorsed pledges from the United States and United Nations to guarantee medical evacuations for health care workers responding to the crisis, an effort to ensure that enough doctors and nurses are willing to risk their lives to help stop the disease.
Mr Kim also said that more hospitals and local health centres were needed to ensure that West Africans had faith that they can get the care they need in their own communities, and no longer fear that Ebola centres are places where people go to die.