The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced last week that it is making a $50 million donation to various organizations working on the frontline of the fight against Ebola in West Africa. The gift represents the largest humanitarian donation ever made by the foundation, which is the largest charitable foundation in the world. The announcement comes in response to the United Nations’ recent issuing of an “international rescue call” for greater assistance from the global community to help contain the current outbreak of the disease, which has killed thousands of people.

Gates Foundation Ebola Gift 2

The Foundation states that the gift has been made “to support the scale up of emergency efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and interrupt transmission of the virus.” As the Foundation’s president of global development, Chris Elias, told Associated Press, “It became clear to us over the last seven to 10 days that the pace and scope of the epidemic was increasing significantly.” The flexible funding will be released immediately, with money going to the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other international organizations.

Related: WHO: World’s Worst Ebola Outbreak Could Affect 20,000 People or More

To date the Foundation has already pledged $5 million to WHO for emergency operations and R&D assessments and $5 million to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. This $10 million is included in the overall $50 million pledge. These funds are earmarked to support efforts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to purchase essential medical supplies, coordinate response activities, and provide at-risk communities with life-saving health information.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that “the world can no longer afford to short-change global public health,” and has urged the international community to provide the estimated $600 million needed for supplies in West Africa in order to stop Ebola transmission in affected countries within six to nine months. The UN believes that efforts on this scale are required to prevent the further international spread of the virus.

+ The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Via The Huffington Post and Associated Press

Photos by World Economic Forum and EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser via Flickr