The Ebola epidemic may have begun in West Africa, but its scope is increasingly international.
The 2014 epidemic first appeared last winter in southern Guinea, and quickly spread into Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. So far Ebola, which has a mortality rate of 70 per cent, has killed about 4500 people in West Africa.
But diseases do not respect national borders, and in recent weeks, Senegal, Nigeria, Germany, Spain and the United States have reported confirmed cases of the viral infection. Most, but not all of the victims, contracted the disease in West Africa.
Clearly, Ebola is a global threat, and the best way to rid the world of this disease is to deal with the epidemic at its source in West Africa. But that requires money, equipment, medical and technical expertise. The United States is sending help. To date, the United States has contributed $258 million, and allocated up to another billion in support of as many as 4,000 U.S. military personnel that include many already on the ground in West Africa. The U.S. is also building 17 Ebola treatment units, providing mobile laboratories and communications infrastructure. “We are using every instrument of American power in order to try to get this job done,” said Secretary of State John Kerry. “But we know that no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to do it alone:”
“And we’ve been raising this issue in every single bilateral meeting that I have, but we know that nothing that one, two, three countries do together is going to solve it. We have to all be engaged in this. There is no country that is exempt from being able to do something to be able to contribute to this effort and help make a difference. And everything we do depends on how we coordinate our efforts as partners in how we contribute together.”
“If we don’t adequately address this current outbreak now,” said Secretary Kerry, “then Ebola has the potential to become a scourge like HIV or polio, that we will end up fighting, all of us, for decades.”
Ebola is a threat to every person, every country. The United States calls on the international community to join us in this fight.