The Ebola plague

The American President Barack Obama has made a dramatic pledge to send 3,000 US troops to West Africa to halt the spread of the Ebola plague. Starting with Liberia they will erect 17 treatment centres and train thousands of health care workers. They will establish a control centre in Monrovia to co-ordinate all efforts across West Africa that are trying to combat the disease.

So far 2,400 people have died of the Ebola plague, mainly in the three small interlinked countries of West Africa – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organisation predicts that thousands more cases will come. The WHOHO (starved of funds at the present time) estimates that $987.8 million is required to cover all aspects of the crisis from gravediggers to medical experts.

To deal with the present stage of the outbreak foreign medical teams with up to 600 experts and 10,000 local health workers are needed. The approach of the United States is to treat the whole of West Africa as a single region. There are fears that the city of Lagos in Nigeria will face an Ebola outbreak since its huge shantytowns will attract and spread the disease.

President Sirleaf of Liberia called upon the United States to do more to help halt the epidemic. As she pointed out, many African countries do not have the medical capacity or trained personnel to halt the epidemic. The disease may not be contained for 18 months and meanwhile, could infect hundreds of thousands of people. At the present time 20,000 people are known to be at risk of catching the disease It is ironical that the United States, which has for years tried to establish military bases in West Africa, is now able to o so to combat Ebola.

As one expert put it: If not dealt with effectively now, Ebola could become a major humanitarian crisis in countries currently affected. According to President Obama, “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.” And as US Senator Chris Coon argued: “This humanitarian intervention should serve as a firewall against a global security crisis that has the potential to reach American soil.

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