News and analysis
August 13, 2014

Paul Allen Foundation Pledges $2.8-Million to Fight Ebola

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation said this week it donated $2.8-million to the American Red Cross and $100,000 to GlobalGiving to combat an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people in four West African countries.

The money will go toward equipment, educational materials, and volunteer training in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, foundation officials said. The Seattle-based foundation and Vulcan, an investment company also founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, had previously funded Ebola vaccine research at Kansas State University.

Mr. Allen "wants to do what he can to prevent further infections and death by getting the tools, supplies, and people on the ground to contain the disease," Dune Ives, co-manager of the foundation, said in an email.

Jana Sweeny, director of international communications for the Red Cross, says it is the largest gift the organization has received for its work on the Ebola outbreak. Permanent Red Cross workers in countries including Sierra Leon and Liberia have being working to manage the situation, distributing educational materials and disposing of dead bodies, among other tasks.

"The larger Red Cross movement has been providing additional assistance in the form of financial resources, supplies for preventative care, and different resources that are needed," Ms. Sweeny said. "On the ground there are about 2,500 volunteers that have been working."

A total of 1,848 people have been infected, and 1,013 people have died during the outbreak, according to latest update from the World Health Organization. The international health community has been weighing the use of unregistered treatments. Two health workers have already been treated with experimental medicine, of which there are limited supplies, the WHO says.

A number of charities have been caught up in the outbreak. The two American health professionals sickened with Ebola in West Africa are now being treated at a special containment unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Kent Brantly, a 33-year-old doctor, was working for the nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia when he became ill. Nancy Writebol, a 59-year-old nurse, had also been working in Liberia for an organization called SIM USA.

Send an e-mail to Megan O’Neil.