President Obama To Send 3,000 Military Forces To Fight Ebola In West Africa

By on September 16, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — Under pressure to boost the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 military personnel to West Africa amid worries that the financial and human cost of the outbreak is rapidly growing.

The military response is part of a heightened U.S. role that will include erecting new treatment and isolation facilities, training health care workers and increasing communications and transportation support, officials said.

Obama was announcing the stepped-up effort Tuesday during a visit to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta following appeals for a greater U.S. effort to confront the crisis and alarm that the Ebola virus could spread and even mutate into a more easily transmitted disease.

The president said the CDC was “one of the crown jewels” in fighting disease and that the outbreak had provided a timely opportunity for him to thank everyone there for extraordinary efforts. Obama was joined at the meeting by National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the 3,000 troops would not provide direct care to Ebola patients. A substantial number will be stationed at an intermediate base in Senegal, Earnest said, with others at locations in Liberia where they will provide logistical, training, engineering and other support.

The World Health Organization warned that the number of Ebola cases in West Africa could start doubling every three weeks and that the crisis could end up costing nearly $1 billion to contain. Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, said the global response was falling short. “The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing,” Liu told a meeting Tuesday at the United Nations in Geneva.

Nearly 5,000 people have become ill from Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal since it was first recognized in March. WHO says it anticipates that figure could rise to more than 20,000. At least 2,400 people have died, with Liberia bearing the brunt.

With the addition of military personnel, administration officials said that the new U.S. initiatives aim to:

—Train as many as 500 health care workers a week.

—Erect 17 heath care facilities in Liberia of 100 beds each.

—Set up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate between U.S. and international relief efforts.

—Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development will deliver to Liberia this week.

—Carry out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on how to handle exposed patients.

Meanwhile, a Senate panel held an afternoon hearing on the crisis. Expected to testify were Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Kent Brantly, an American physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia but recovered after treatment with an experimental drug. Obama met with Brantly at the White House on Tuesday before departing for Atlanta.

At the hearing, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, declared, “This outbreak has spread in ways that are potentially catastrophic for the world.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said urgent action was needed. “We must take the dangerous, deadly threat of the Ebola epidemic as seriously as we take ISIS,” he said, referring to the extremist group in Syria and Iraq.

Separately, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “Frankly, I’m a bit surprised the administration hasn’t acted more quickly to address what is a serious threat, not just to Africa but to others across the world.” He predicted action “in the coming weeks” by the executive and legislative branches of government “to look at how do we best contain this very horrible disease.”

Obama administration officials said money for the stepped-up effort to combat the disease would come from $500 million in overseas contingency operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, that the Pentagon already has asked Congress to redirect to carry out humanitarian efforts in Iraq and in West Africa. Officials said it would take about two weeks to get U.S. forces on the ground.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick patients, making doctors and nurses especially vulnerable to contracting the virus, which has no vaccine or approved treatment.

The U.S. effort will include medics and corpsmen for treatment and training, engineers to help erect the treatment facilities and specialists in logistics to assist in patient transportation.

Obama’s trip came a day after the United States also demanded a stepped-up international response to the outbreak. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called Monday for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, warning that the potential risk of the virus could “set the countries of West Africa back a generation.”

About Ify

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien