As the worst-ever Ebola epidemic rages on in Africa, President Barack Obama announced that the US will ramp up efforts to combat the virus as part of “the largest international response in the history of the CDC.”
In an address from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, Obama said that the US is willing to take the lead on international efforts to combat the virus, CNN reported. Ebola “is a global threat, and it demands a truly global response,” Obama said.
The announcement came amid increasing criticism that the international community has not responded quickly and boldly enough to what has become the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
So far, more than 2,400 people have died this year from Ebola — more than the combined total of all previous outbreaks since the first recorded in 1976 — and the epidemic has spread to five African nations, including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and Senegal.
To work to turn the outbreak around, the White House has committed more than $175 million to this “top national security priority.” The focus of the funds is stopping spread in West Africa. The US will send more than 3,000 troops to the most affected areas, and set up a joint operation in Monrovia, Liberia — the hardest hit of the five regions — to coordinate the relief efforts.
In addition, the plan will boost the number of health workers in the region. The US pledged to build as many as 17 additional Ebola treatment units — with a total of about 1,700 beds — and to help recruit medical personnel to staff them. The Department of Defense also plans to establish a site where up to 500 health care providers can be trained each week. USAID will support a program of distributing kits with sanitizers and medical supplies to some 400,000 of the most vulnerable households in Liberia.