Ebola Response: Cuba Sends Doctors, US Sends Troops
September 19, 2014
Smitha Mundasad / BBC News & BBC News & David Martosko, Political Editor / The Daily Mail Online
Cuba is sending 165 doctors, nurses and infection control specialists to Sierra Leone to help tackle the Ebola outbreak. The health workers will stay for six months. The US plans to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to "oversee building new treatment centers and help train medical staff." Meanwhile, US AID will spend more than $89,000 to purchase and ship 5,000 cadaver bags to Liberia. In response to warnings about the impact of Ebola in the US, Washington has allocated more than $100 million in resources.
Cuba to Send Doctors to Ebola Areas
Smitha Mundasad, Health Heporter / BBC News
HAVANA (September 12, 2014) -- Cuba is sending 165 health workers to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, officials say. Doctors, nurses and infection control specialists will travel to Sierra Leone in October and stay for six months.
The announcement comes as the World Health Organization says new cases in West Africa are increasing faster than the capacity to manage them. More than 2,400 people have died from the virus in recent months and some 4,700 people have been infected.
The death toll remains highest in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. World Health Organization (WHO) officials say the number of people affected is likely to be much greater than current estimates suggest.
In Liberia WHO experts say there is not a single bed left to treat patients with Ebola. But the world football association, FIFA, says it is joining forces with the United Nations to turn the country's national stadium into a large-scale Ebola treatment unit.
Dr Margaret Chan, director of the WHO, said: "If we are going to go to war with Ebola we need the resources to fight. I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known."
She added: "Cuba is world-famous for its ability to train outstanding doctors and nurses and for its generosity in helping fellow countries on the route to progress." Through a global medical program, doctors have been deployed to a range of countries, from Algeria to South Africa. And many consider this medical help to be a central part of Cuba's international relations.
One of Cuba's most extensive efforts is an eye surgery program in Venezuela where thousands of cataract operations have been performed. Hundreds of Cuban medical workers were sent to Haiti during the earthquake in 2010. The country also trains thousands of overseas medical students, many of whom return to their home nations to work.
Ebola Outbreak: Barack Obama 'To Pledge US Troops to Fight Virus'
(September 16, 2014) -- US President Barack Obama is to announce plans on Tuesday to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to help fight the Ebola virus, US officials say. It is understood the US military will oversee building new treatment centers and help train medical staff. There has been criticism of the slow international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are the worst-hit countries. The outbreak has killed more than 2,400 people. More than half of those killed by the virus have been in Liberia. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned recently that the country could see thousands of more cases. United Nations officials will discuss the international response to the outbreak at a meeting in Geneva.
US officials said the aim of the country's anti-Ebola initiative is to:
• Train up to 500 healthcare workers a week
• Construct 17 heathcare facilities, each with about 100 beds
• Establish a joint command based in Monrovia, Liberia, to co-ordinate between US and international relief efforts
• Distribute home healthcare kits to thousands of households
• Conduct a home and community-based campaign to train local people in how to handle patients
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appealed directly to Mr. Obama for help in tackling the outbreak.
Several disease experts have welcomed the US plan, though some also question its focus on Liberia. "We should see all of West Africa now as one big outbreak," says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, quoted in The New York Times.
"It's very clear we have to deal with all the areas with Ebola."
On Monday, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama said greater and faster outside help was needed. Ebola spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.
Liberia at a Glance:
• Infrastructure devastated by a 14-year civil war
• About 250,000 people killed in the conflict that ended in 2003
• One doctor to treat nearly 100,000 people before Ebola outbreak
• Ebola cases this year: 2,046
• Ebola deaths this year: 1,224
• Population: 4.4 million
State Department Orders 5,000 Body Bags and
160,000 Hazmat Suits for African Ebola Outbreak
As Obama Sends 100 CDC Experts
David Martosko, Political Editor / The Daily Mail Online
WASHINGTON (September 15, 2014) -- The US Agency for International Development ordered 5,000 body bags from a Florida company last month as part of its planned response to an outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa.
And as President Obama prepares to enlarge America's aid to affected countries, a company that makes protective clothing says the State Department, which oversees USAID, has invited bids for 160,000 hazmat suits.
The body-bag purchase came on August 19, just after the World Health Organization said the epidemic had killed 1,000 people. That death toll is now greater than 2,400.
The size of the contracts indicates how seriously governments are taking the threat, especially considering that all 5,000 body bags were destined only for Liberia -- one of three countries whose citizens have been hammered with new disease cases and paralyzed with fear. And the purchase says nothing about what resources might be coming as part of other nations' contributions.
Barack Obama will travel to Atlanta on Tuesday for a briefing with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His chief spokesman said Monday that the president will announce new levels of support from the US to fight the disease.
The CDC has begun to warn health care workers and hospital administrators to be on the lookout for potential Ebola cases. 'Now is the time to prepare,' reads part of a six-page 'checklist' being distributed nationwide. The agency has already deployed about 100 of its own workers to Africa, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during his daily briefing.
'This is, if not the largest, among the largest deployments of CDC personnel -- ever,' he said. America, Earnest added, 'has a unique responsibility to step up in the midst of an international crisis. ... Our doctors and scientists are some of the best in the world.'
The federal government as a whole has allocated $100 million in financing and other resources to assist what has become a continent-wide race against the clock to stamp out a crafty pathogen before it can spread beyond hope of containment.
That level of support, about one-sixth of what the WHO estimates is needed, 'underscores just how extraordinarily serious the administration believes this issue is,' said Earnest.
Obama's visit will add a new sense of urgency, and more aid to the countries where the threat is the more dire. 'I do anticipate that we'll have some additional announcements to make' on Tuesday, Earnest said, 'about additional commitments we're making.'
USAID's body-bag purchase was signed August 19, a $32,500 contract with a Florida packaging company, earmarked 'for the USAID/OFDA response to the Ebola crisis in west Africa.' OFDA is the agency's Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance.
Buying the body bags, however, was just the first step. USAID inked another contact on August 27 'for the transport of 5,000 body bags from the vendor's facility to Liberia.' Flying them there from warehouses in Illinois and California cost another $57,144.
It's not clear whether the State Department's purchase of 160,000 hazmat suits is intended to be delivered all at once, or to which countries they will be delivered.
But Lakeland Industries, based in Ronkonkoma, New York, reported on Friday that 'the US State Department alone' has solicited bids 'for 160,000 suits.'
'We encourage all protective apparel companies to increase their manufacturing capacity for sealed seam garments,' the company said in a press release, 'so that our industry can do its part in addressing this threat to global health.'
• Ebola virus is spreading 'exponentially' in Liberia, health chiefs warn, as British and American troops head to Africa to help set up treatment centres
• Fourth Ebola patient being transported to same US hospital where two American humanitarian aid workers treated for the disease survived
• UK troops and medical staff to set up 62-bed Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone
• Breakthrough as experimental Ebola vaccines protect monkeys from epidemic for 10 months
• UK ebola fear as 21,000 African students from countries in the affected regions arrive
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