The UN Security Council has declared the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa a “threat to international peace and security”.
The council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to provide more resources to combat the outbreak.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned an emergency meeting of the council that the number of Ebola infections was doubling every three weeks.
More than 2,600 people have now died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record.
Mr Ban said the “gravity and scale of the situation now require a level of international action unprecedented for a health emergency”.
He announced the establishment of an “emergency UN mission” working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the crisis, saying he would convene a “high-level meeting” next week.
The council heard that the international response had to be three times bigger than it was now to contain the crisis – the number of cases is doubling every two weeks in west Africa.
The resolution attracted 130 co-sponsors – a UN record – and calls on countries to provide urgent aid, such as medical staff and field hospitals.
The resolution also calls for travel bans imposed by some states to be lifted, saying the countries need to have access to aid instead of being isolated.
Council members heard that the international response would need to be 20 times greater than it was now, if the outbreak were to be controlled.
The Security Council has never previously met to confront a public health crisis, reports the BBC’s Nick Bryant from New York.
It is only the second time that a public health issue has been addressed at the council, the first instance being HIV/Aids, our correspondent adds.
A doctor appearing via video link from Liberia warned that if the international community did not step up its response, “we would be wiped out”.
Officials in Guinea searching for a team of health workers and journalists who went missing while trying to raise awareness of Ebola have found several bodies.
A spokesman for Guinea’s government said the bodies included those of three journalists in the team.
They went missing after being attacked on Tuesday in a village near the southern city of Nzerekore.
Meanwhile Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said the disease would be soon be a thing of the past within the next couple of weeks.
Smiling broadly, the president said the international community “are not only in the fight but also involved in the preparation work”.
He said Britain was establishing an Ebola treatment centre at Kerry Town on the Freetown peninsula, the Chinese were setting up one at Jui just outside Freetown and the Americans had “increased their presence” through the Centres for Disease Control.
“I will say that their presence has improved” he said, and the collaboration would continue to “ensure that [by] the next couple of weeks we will be able to contain Ebola”.
“I am sure that we will get Ebola behind us very soon” he said, assuring the country would get back to “normalcy in December”.
By normalcy, he explained, Ebola would be contained and his government would return to implementing those “development programmes we were carrying out before the May outbreak” .
He said Ebola would be a thing of the past earlier than the six-month timeframe given by the French charity MSF and other agencies.