US to Commit $500 Million, Deploy 3,000 Troops in Ebola Fight

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( — September 16, 2014)  — Under pressure to do more to confront the Ebola outbreak sweeping across West Africa, President Obama on Tuesday is to announce an expansion of military and medical resources to combat the spread of the deadly virus, administration officials said.

In the CDC’s largest deployment in response to an epidemic, more than 100 officials from the agency are currently on the ground and $175 million has been allocated to West Africa to help combat the spread of Ebola.

“We should see all of West Africa now as one big outbreak,” Dr. Osterholm said. “It’s very clear we have to deal with all the areas with Ebola. If the US is not able or not going to do it, that’s all the more reason to say the rest of the world has to do it.”

The US effort, named Operation United Assistance, will be based out of Monrovia, Liberia, the country hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic and where the disease is currently spreading fastest and will be commanded by an Army general.

The World Health Organization announced last week that as of Sept. 7, there have been 4,366 confirmed, suspected, or probable cases of the disease, with 2,218 deaths.

More troubling is the pace of infections, which has steadily risen despite local, regional, and international containment efforts. The WHO has predicted “thousands” of new infections in the coming weeks, calling on the global community to make an “exponential increase” in its response efforts.

The US plan also focuses on training. A site will be established where military medical personnel will teach some 500 healthcare workers per week for six months or more how to provide care to Ebola patients, officials said.

Officials said the Department of Defense had requested to reallocate $500m in funds from fiscal 2014 to help cover the costs of the humanitarian mission.

The US aid agency would also support a program to distribute protection kits with sanitizers and medical supplies to 400,000 vulnerable households in Liberia.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, on Monday called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Thursday, warning that the potential risk of the virus could “set the countries of West Africa back a generation”.

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, was expected to brief the council along with Dr Margaret Chan, WHO chief, and Dr David Nabarro, the recently named UN coordinator to tackle the disease, as well as representatives from the affected countries. Earlier this month, Obama released a video to the people of West Africa, raising awareness about the disease.