Fears of global contagion vis-à-vis the Ebola virus, especially into the Western hemisphere, have largely taken a back seat to growing concerns about American foreign policy towards the Middle East and the rise of ISIS. But perhaps not anymore. In fact, later today President Obama will unveil a sizeable aid package to several beleaguered nations in West Africa in the hopes of alleviating the suffering there and containing this scourge.
USA Today has the details:
President Obama today will announce the expansion of a $763 million military-led plan to help West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola virus and prevent it from reaching the United States, officials said Tuesday. The revamped project calls for more doctors and health care professionals; more portable hospitals, laboratories, and other medical facilities; and increased training for first responders and other medical officials throughout West Africa.
Some 3,000 U.S. military personnel will be deployed to West Africa to lead the project, officials said. The total cost of the program is estimated at $763 million over six months, officials said, including $175 million that has already been dedicated to fight the disease that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in Africa.
Reuters reports, meanwhile, that many professionals believe U.S. efforts to combat the virus are well-intentioned but wholly inadequate:
The U.S. action, which goes far further than previous offers of aid, won praise from aid workers and officials in the region, but health experts said it was still not enough to contain the fast-spreading epidemic.
The death toll from the fever, which spreads rapidly, causes uncontrolled bleeding and fever and typically kills more than half of its victims, has doubled in the past month to 2,461, mostly in three countries in West Africa. The World Health Organization said a "much faster" response was needed to limit the number of cases to the tens of thousands.
"This health crisis we're facing is unparalleled in modern times," WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward told a news conference in Geneva. "We don't know where the numbers are going on this."
Hence why the president is taking decisive action by (a) putting boots on the ground in West Africa and (b) appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars to end the epidemic. But what meaningful difference on the ground, if any, these generous efforts will make remains unclear.