Gates Foundation pledges 'badly needed' $50 million to fight Ebola

A medical worker wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gestures beside a woman inside the high-risk area of the Elwa hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).

SEATTLE -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday that it would commit $50 million to support the scale-up of emergency efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West African, with hopes of interrupting the transmission of the virus.

The funds will go to United Nations agencies and international aid organizations, the organization said in a press release.

They will be used to purchase "badly needed" supplies and scale-up emergency operations in affected countries.  Some money will also go to the development of therapies, vaccines and diagnostics that could be used to treat patients and halt the spread of the disease.

“We are working urgently with our partners to identify the most effective ways to help them save lives now and stop transmission of this deadly disease,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Gates Foundation. “We also want to accelerate the development of treatments, vaccines and diagnostics that can help end this epidemic and prevent future outbreaks.”

To date, the Gates Foundation has committed more than $10 million to fight the Ebola outbreak.

The latest Ebola outbreak has killed thousands and lead to partial lock-downs of West African countries such as Sierra Leone.

More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed with Ebola since the first documented case in December, the World Health Organization has said. Of those cases, there have been 1,800 fatalities, the agency has said.

More than 40 percent of the cases have been diagnosed in the past three weeks, the agency said.

Ebola typically kills 90 percent of those infected with the virus, but the death rate in this outbreak has dropped because of early treatment.