UN: Nearly $1 bil­lion needed now to stop Ebola

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

GENEVA (AP) — The num­ber of Ebola cases could start dou­bling ev­ery three weeks in West Africa, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion said Tues­day, warn­ing that the out­break will cost nearly $1 bil­lion to con­tain so it does not turn into a “hu­man catas­tro­phe.”

Even as Pres­i­dent Barack Obama is or­der­ing the de­ploy­ment of 3,000 U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel to help pro­vide aid in the re­gion, Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders said the global re­sponse to Ebola has been far short of what is needed.

“The re­sponse to Ebola con­tin­ues to fall dan­ger­ously be­hind,” Dr. Joanne Liu, pres­i­dent of the med­i­cal char­ity, told a U.N. spe­cial brief­ing on Ebola in Geneva. “The win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to con­tain this out­break is clos­ing. We need more coun­tries to stand up, we need greater de­ploy­ment, and we need it now.”

Dr. Bruce Ayl­ward, WHO’s as­sis­tant di­rec­tor-gen­eral, said Tues­day that “this health cri­sis we face is un­par­al­leled in mod­ern times.”

The num­bers are stag­ger­ing: At least 2,400 deaths have been blamed on the out­break, which has touched Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nige­ria and Sene­gal since it was first rec­og­nized in March.

Half of the nearly 5,000 cases oc­curred in the last three weeks, and of­fi­cials said Tues­day that it was not un­think­able that 20,000 could be­come in­fected be­fore the out­break is over.

“It’s a po­ten­tial threat to global se­cu­rity if th­ese coun­tries break down,” Obama said, speak­ing of the hard­est-hit coun­tries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea

“If the out­break is not stopped now, we could be look­ing at hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple af­fected, with pro­found eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions for all of us,” he said after out­lin­ing new steps be­ing taken by the U.S. to con­tain the out­break.

In ad­di­tion to the troop de­ploy­ment, the height­ened U.S. role in West Africa will in­clude erect­ing new treat­ment and iso­la­tion fa­cil­i­ties, train­ing health care work­ers and boost­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and trans­porta­tion support, U.S. of­fi­cials said in Wash­ing­ton.

Hun­dreds more in­ter­na­tional health work­ers will likely be re­quired. Some 3.3 mil­lion haz­ard suits will be needed in the next six months to pro­tect those care­tak­ers from the virus, which is spread by con­tact with bod­ily flu­ids such as blood, urine or di­ar­rhea. Some $23.8 mil­lion alone will pay burial teams and buy body bags, since the bod­ies of Ebola vic­tims are highly in­fec­tious.

In a re­port re­leased Tues­day, WHO said all of this and more will cost $987.8 mil­lion. That’s 10 times what the or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mated the out­break would cost at the be­gin­ning of Au­gust.

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