WHO: Ebola vaccine obtainable by November

The vaccine is currently being tested on two WHO workers and if proven safe it will be made available.

FILE: An MSF medical worker feeds an Ebola child victim at an MSF facility in Kailahun, on 15 August, 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The World Health Organisation (WHO) says an Ebola vaccine could be available by November for health workers.

The vaccine is currently being tested on two WHO workers and if proven safe it will be made available.

The outbreak has killed about 2,100 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria in recent months.

Meanwhile, the European Union pledged €140 million to boost the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

More than six months into the crisis, the disease is spreading faster than ever and organisations across the world are scrambling cash and supplies to the region. But WHO said the lack of trained staff was hobbling the response.

"The situation is going from bad to worse," said Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid. "We are helping make a difference on the ground but the needs are outpacing the international community's capacity to react."

The outbreak was first confirmed in Guinea in March and has since gripped Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases have also been confirmed in Nigeria to the east and Senegal to the west, where a Guinean student has been isolated.

The EU funding will be used to strengthen health systems, train health workers and pay for mobile testing laboratories, highlighting how the disease has struck some of the continent's poorest nations and exposed the fragility of their medical care.

Over €97 million will be spent on budget support to Liberia and Sierra Leone in order to help them deliver public services, including health care, and maintain macroeconomic stability, the European Commission said in a statement.

The WHO last month announced a strategic plan to contain the epidemic over the next nine months, during time which it expects 20,000 people will have contracted the disease.

The United Nations said this week $600 million would be needed to fight the outbreak and an Ebola crisis centre would be set up to coordinate the response.

The WHO's plan calls for a force of 12,000 local health workers and 750 foreign experts to be rolled out.

"What is needed really is getting more experts who will be able to train and equip the health workers who will be recruited," said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic in Geneva.

Additional reporting by Reuters.