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Calls mount for major scale-up to Ebola crisis

12 September 2014, 08:49

Washington - The world response to the deadly Ebola crisis in West Africa needs a major scale-up that should include military flights for delivering supplies, US lawmakers and leading doctors said on Thursday.

The calls came amid new warnings from the World Health Organisation that the viral outbreak is accelerating out of control, with 2 296 dead and 4 293 infected in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria since the start of this year.

Also Read: UN commends Lagos measures against Ebola

"The problem is that unless we have a massive scale-up of resources in the form of hospital beds, personnel, equipment, we are not going to be able to control this," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease.

"We need to do something at a much higher scale that we are doing now," he said in an interview with AFP.

Global health threat

"We are going to need thousands of more people, thousands of more beds," Fauci said.

"We probably will need some sort of military presence - not with guns - but military that have logistic capabilities of flying equipment in and out, this kind of thing."

Fauci said discussions are under way among top officials worldwide regarding how to contain the epidemic, which has fast become the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

The WHO has pledged $100m to combat the Ebola spread, while the World Bank vowed $200 million, the European Commission $181m, and the United States $75m to combat.

Also Read: Microsoft co-founder Allen to give $9 million for Ebola fight

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this week also committed $50m to UN agencies and international organisation involved in the emergency efforts.

"Ebola most likely will not become a global health threat," wrote doctors Annette Rid of King's College London and Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania, in the journal of the American Medical Association.

The virus only spreads among people in close contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, and most developed nations can sufficiently isolate the sick in order to ward off Ebola's spread.

More field hospitals

However, high-income countries have "three compelling reasons to help," they urged, citing humanitarianism, global justice and the ethics of sharing benefits from research.

In the US Senate, Christopher Coons, chairperson of the subcommittee on African Affairs, called on President Barack Obama to designate a point-person for managing the US response.

"We must begin to deploy United States military support to the maximum extent possible," he added.

Also Read: Monrovia soccer stadium to house Ebola centre: FIFA

He praised the announcement earlier this week that the United States would be establishing a new hospital facility in Liberia.

"But I'll admit, I'm concerned it will take weeks to deploy, Coons, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor.

"This is not everything we can and should be doing. We need to build more field hospitals, for civilians in Liberia and beyond, so that there are facilities for health workers and civilians fighting the disease."

Coons also called on private citizens and international organizations to give whatever they could to the response effort.



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