Calling for a global response to meet what has become a global threat, President Barack Obama announced that the United States will soon send 3,000 military personnel and stepped-up medical aid to lead in a major expansion of an international campaign to stem the deadly Ebola outbreak ravaging several countries in West Africa.
The disease, spread through contact with bodily fluids of the infected, has killed more than 2,600 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Considerable personnel resources and expertise have been marshaled to date, but the virus’s spread continues to increase.
Countermeasures such as isolating the sick and tracking contacts of those infected have been hard to establish in countries where Ebola was unknown until this outbreak. The sheer numbers of people now contracting the disease adds to the difficulty. Beyond the human health toll, normal economic activity has been disrupted, as have trade and travel.
Confronting this threat is a top U.S. priority, the president said, and we will work with the United Nations and other international partners to help the affected and threatened in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, as well as in countries to which the infection might spread. A U.S. military command will be set up in Liberia to support local and multinational efforts across the region.
U.S. forces will aid in the movement and coordination of sanitation kits and other medical supplies and provide a field hospital and training center. The US Agency for International Development will be providing at least 1000 beds for Ebola treatment. Other countries are also now stepping up their response efforts.
Our four-part strategy, which will engage the whole of the United States government, is aimed at controlling the epidemic in West Africa; mitigating related economic and social problems in the region; engaging the international community in a coordinated response; and helping countries prevent such outbreaks from occurring again, or respond to them quickly if they do.