AFRICANGLOBE – President Barack Obama announced new measures Tuesday to help fight the worst-ever Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including sending 3,000 U.S. troops to the region.
A White House statement detailing the program said the troops will be sent to a new command center in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, where they will help with the transportation of supplies and personnel.
The U.S. will also build and staff Ebola treatment centers, and set up a facility to train 500 healthcare workers a week.
The White House said the goal of the program is to control the Ebola epidemic at its source, lessen the economic and political toll it takes on the region and build up global “health security infrastructure” in West Africa and beyond.
The United States Agency for International Development will also carry out a campaign to hand out protection kits and train people to protect themselves and their families. It will initially target the 400,000 most vulnerable households in Liberia, and then expand to cover all of Liberia and the region.
The Ebola virus has infected more than 4,700 people in West Africa, spreading from Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. Liberia has been the hardest hit, accounting for about half of the more than 2,400 deaths.
Obama traveled Tuesday to the headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to meet with health experts and publicly announce the new U.S. efforts.
A White House spokesman said Monday that because of its capability, the United States has a unique responsibility to step up in the midst of the international crisis.
The new programs will bring the total U.S. commitment to fighting the Ebola outbreak to $175 million dollars.
Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the Ebola crisis on Thursday. They say it will only be the second public health crisis discussed by the council, which met on the AIDS pandemic in 2000.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the Ebola situation is dire and the international community must work together to stem its spread.
“I don’t need to tell any of you how unusual Security Council debates on public health issues and public health crises are, but at this moment it is crucial that council members discuss the status of the epidemic, confer on a coordinated international response, and begin the process of marshaling our collective resources to stop the spread of the disease,” said Power.
In a recent interview, President Obama said while Ebola does not pose an imminent threat to Americans, containing the outbreak is a top national security priority.