The Disasters Emergency Committee will tomorrow launch an appeal for people affected by the Ebola crisis in west Africa.
This is the first time since it was founded 50 years ago that the DEC has run an appeal in response to an outbreak of disease. A statement issued by the DEC said that the decision to launch the Ebola Crisis Appeal was "a reflection of the fact that this is no longer simply a medical emergency but threatens to become a humanitarian catastrophe".
The DEC, which brings 13 international aid charities together in times of crisis, said that the majority of its member agencies were already heavily involved in responding to the Ebola crisis.
Most of their work is focused on stopping the spread of the disease and providing support to those affected. Members with relevant medical expertise are also involved in the specialised work of treating people with Ebola.
Appeals will be made by all the main UK broadcasters, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky. It will also be supported by other DEC partners, including BT, the Post Office, the British Bankers’ Association and ITN.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 5,000 people have died and more than 10,000 have been infected with Ebola since the start of the year. But the numbers could be up to three times higher, according to some estimates.
Saleh Saeed, the chief executive of the DEC, warned that without urgent action to stop the spread of Ebola parts of west Africa "could face catastrophe within 60 days".
He said: "We have never run an appeal in response to a disease outbreak – until today. While many chronic diseases cause untold suffering in poorer countries, the worst acute outbreaks of deadly diseases such as measles or cholera have usually occurred in the wake of another type of disaster."