Obama calls Löfven to discuss Ebola outbreak

TT/The Local/po
TT/The Local/po - [email protected]
Obama calls Löfven to discuss Ebola outbreak
President Barack Obama speaks during a phone call about Ebola, Wednesday, October 8th, in the Oval Office of the White House. File photo: AP/Jacquelyn Martin

US President Barack Obama phoned Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Thursday to discuss ways to combat the ongoing Ebola epidemic.


Löfven took time out from the EU-Asia summit in Milan for a 20-minute phone coversation with Obama, according to the TT news agency.

“We talked quite a bit about what more we can do together with regard to staff down there [in Africa] and other interventions,” Löfven is quoted as saying.

“The evacuation issue is of course a major one, since we have limited resources for evacuating people if they are affected.”

Obama’s call can partly be explained by the fact that Sweden on Thursday said it was investing an additional 100 million kronor ($13.89 million), taking its overall spending to around 240 million kronor.

This will make Sweden the world’s fifth largest donor in real terms for operations to counter Ebola, and the biggest donor per head of population.

“That’s widely appreciated, not least in the United States,” said Löfven.

Part of the money will be used to help Swedish hospitals send more medical volunteers to affected countries in west Africa, while maintaining services in Sweden.

The move follows criticism in recent weeks that Sweden wasn't doing as much to tackle the crisis as its European neighbours.

"It's a serious situation. We must do more, it's very urgent," said the Social Democrat public health minister, Gabriel Wikström, at a press conference on Thursday.

He added that there had been a "very positive response" from county councils to facilitate the means for Swedish staff to take time off, praising the Swedish men and women prepared to travel to Africa for their "heroic" efforts.

Volunteers are likely to help with a range of tasks, from manning medical centres to assisting with administration and the provision of water and effective sanitation in areas that are experiencing Ebola outbreaks.

The World Health Organization is encouraging the development of small treatment centres, in collaboration with local people, to avoid family members contracting the virus by caring for family members in their homes.


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