Health workers move the body of a Liberian woman suspected of dying from the Ebola virus on Wednesday. (Abbas Dulleh/Associated Press)

With Ebola's spread reaching a crisis stage in West Africa, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday that it is committing $50 million to support the emergency response.

The money will go to groups already responding to the epidemic — including U.N. agencies, international organizations and national governments in Ebola-ravaged West Africa — to buy supplies and scale up the response in the hardest-hit countries, according to a statement from the foundation.

"We also want to accelerate the development of treatments, vaccines and diagnostics that can help end this epidemic and prevent future outbreaks," Sue Desmond-Hellmann, the foundation's chief executive, said in a statement.

To put the foundation's pledge into perspective, the U.S. government has spent just over twice that amount in the region since the outbreak began.

The Gates Foundation has already committed more than $10 million of the $50 million to the Ebola response effort. An additional $2 million from the foundation will go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to support incident management, treatment and health care system management."

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