Breaking News: Obama authorizes use of National Guard to fight Ebola in W. Africa

A soldier goes through the decontamination process with U.S. Army soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who are earmarked for the fight against Ebola, take part in training before their deployment to West Africa, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (Reuters / Harrison McClary)

A soldier goes through the decontamination process with U.S. Army soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who are earmarked for the fight against Ebola, take part in training before their deployment to West Africa, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (Reuters / Harrison McClary)

President Barack Obama authorized the Pentagon to call up members of the National Guard and other military reserve units on Thursday to help combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

Obama said the guardsmen would “augment the active forces in support of Operation United Assistance, providing humanitarian assistance and consequence management related to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the West Africa region” in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Hill reported.

The Defense Department is expected to send eight engineers and logistical specialists from the Guard ‒ both active-duty and reservists ‒ during the first deployment, sources told NBC News. They are likely to help build 17 Ebola treatment centers, with 100 beds apiece.

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

The Guard members would join the nearly 4,000 regular troops deploying to West Africa in the coming weeks in an effort to contribute in the fight against the Ebola virus outbreak in the region, according to the Pentagon.

Obama signed the executive order Thursday afternoon, permitting the Pentagon to use the reservists and Guard troops, the Associated Press reported. The DOD said the use of an executive order was necessary to speed the deployments, and would allow the president to send additional forces as needed, according to NBC News. Obama also notified top congressional officials of his move.

There are nearly 9,000 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in five West African countries, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 4,500 people have died from the virus so far. The biggest outbreak is in Liberia, where US troops will be sent to provide humanitarian assistance. Widespread transmission is also occurring in Guinea and Sierra Leone, while there has been localized transmission in Nigeria, Spain and the United States. Senegal has had a travel-associated case.

Ebola Response Roadmap 10 October 2014 (World Health Organization)

Ebola Response Roadmap 10 October 2014 (World Health Organization)

The World Bank predicted last Wednesday that the spread of Ebola presents a $33 billion threat to West African economies if the disease isn’t contained. Earlier that week, scientists predicted that there was a 75 percent chance that Ebola would reach France by the end October and a 50 percent chance for the UK.

Ebola infections in West Africa could hit 1.4 million by the end of January if current trends continue and no immediate, large-scale increase in response measures is taken, the CDC said in a September estimate.

 

Ebola: To Cuba, a crisis; to U.S., a military campaign

Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within Four Months, C.D.C. Estimates

Watch Videos at the end of this article.

Yet another set of ominous projections about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was released Tuesday, in a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gave worst- and best-case estimates for Liberia and Sierra Leone based on computer modeling.

In the worst-case scenario, the two countries could have a total of 21,000 cases of Ebola by Sept. 30 and 1.4 million cases by Jan. 20 if the disease keeps spreading without effective methods to contain it. These figures take into account the fact that many cases go undetected, and estimate that there are actually 2.5 times as many as reported.

In the best-case model, the epidemic in both countries would be “almost ended” by Jan. 20, the report said. Success would require conducting safe funerals at which no one touches the bodies, and treating 70 percent of patients in settings that reduce the risk of transmission. The report said the proportion of patients now in such settings was about 18 percent in Liberia and 40 percent in Sierra Leone.

The current official case count is 5,843, including 2,803 deaths, according to the W.H.O.

The C.D.C. estimates omit Guinea, which has been hit hard, because the epidemic struck in waves that could not be modeled.

The W.H.O. published its own revised estimates of the outbreak on Monday, predicting more than 20,000 cases by Nov. 2 if control does not improve. That figure is more conservative than the one from the C.D.C., but the W.H.O. report also noted that many cases were unreported and said that without effective help, the three most affected countries would soon be reporting thousands of cases and deaths per week. It said its projections were similar to those from the C.D.C.

The W.H.O. report also raised, for the first time, the possibility that the disease would not be stopped but could become endemic in West Africa, meaning that it could become a constant presence there.

Dr. Frieden said the Defense Department had already delivered parts of a 25-bed unit that would soon be set up to treat health workers who become infected, a safety measure he said was important to help encourage health professionals to volunteer. He said that more aid groups were also arriving in the region to set up treatment centers, and that a “surge” of help would “break the back of the epidemic.”

 The body of a man thought to have died of Ebola on a Monrovia, Liberia, street on Monday. The Liberian president has implored President Obama to do more. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The body of a man thought to have died of Ebola on a Monrovia, Liberia, street on Monday. The Liberian president has implored President Obama to do more. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

It’s a shame that a small island in the caribbean, with a cruel blockade imposed by the US is the first nation to send doctors to Africa to treat Ebola.

For those who still insist on calling it an “economic embargo”, a glance at the report on the effects of this irrational U.S. policy in areas such as public health, due to be presented this month at the UN, is enough to dismiss this euphemism or at the very least call it into question. The blockade, a policy against life, a glance at the report on the effects of this irrational U.S. policy in areas such as public health, due to be presented this month at the UN, is enough to dismiss this euphemism or at the very least call it into question.

In a country such as Cuba, where the health system is a universal right for all without discrimination rather than a business that lines a few pockets, the prohibitions or difficulties in acquiring certain medicines, replacement parts for diagnostic and medical equipment, instruments and other supplies, can not in any way be seen as simple economic sanctions.

Yet, trying to survive the cruelty of the US blockade for many years, Cuba, in solidarity with those countries like Haiti, and now Africa, ravaged by cholera and capitalism, famine, Ebola, and natural disasters, is the first nation in the world to send doctors to Africa to treat victims of Ebola.

Shame on you Mr. Obama, Africa needs the billions that you have given to the fascists in Ukraine!  Ebola can reach 1.4 million in three months and the boisterous  Defense Department all they can do is to send “parts” for 25 beds!!!!

Please listen to the Liberian president IMPLORING YOU TO DO MORE THAN 25 BEDS AND SENDING TROOPS! THEY ARE DYING, THE PEOPLE ARE DYING!

Ebola Virus Outbreak 2014: Dying at the Hospital Door | The New York Times

“EBOLA DEATH” CAUGHT ON CAMERA

Ebola: The world’s most dangerous Virus (full documentary)

Cuba leads in the fight against Ebola in West Africa

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Photo: WHO’s Director, Dr. Margarat Chan and Dr Roberto Morales Ojeda, Cuba’s Minister of Public Health, at the announcement that Cuba will send a medical team of 165 people to Sierra Leone to help in the frontline in the Ebola response efforts.

September 18, 2014

By Dennis Laumann

From the People’s World

 

Cuba is the first nation in the world to answer an urgent call for personnel to help stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa and will send 165 medical professionals to Sierra Leone, one of the three countries most affectedby the virus, next month.

The announcement was made last Friday by Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, Cuba’s Minister of Public Health, at a news conference at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Although other countries have pledged money or supplies, Cuba is the first to offer its most valuable asset and what is most needed to combat Ebola: well-trained, experienced doctors, nurses, and other health care experts.

It is reported that the United States will follow Cuba’s lead as President Barack Obama is expected to announce plans to send 3,000 military troops to Liberia to supervise building of treatment centers and train medical staff.

Cuba’s decision is consistent with a long history of solidarity with other developing nations, particularly those facing crises. Indeed, the WHO’s Director, Dr. Margarat Chan, not only praised Cuba’s contribution to fighting the Ebola crisis but its larger role in providing medical care to millions around the world. “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,” she asserted.

Chan thanked Cuban President Raul Castro and upheld Cuba’s experiences in emergency situations as a model for other countries to emulate. During the devastating 2010 earthquake, for example, hundreds ofCuban medical workers were sent to Haiti, and many remained there to provide health care. At present, there are over 50,000 Cuban health care professionals working in 66 countries, including 2,500 doctors in 32 African nations. One of the most celebrated programs is “Mission Miracle” in Venezuela, where Cuban doctorshave performed thousands of cataract operations and also run clinics in poor urban neighborhoods and rural communities.

Cuban doctors were already working in Sierra Leone when the Ebola outbreak began in December 2013 in Guinea. The crisis has overwhelmed the three neighboring countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. There have been a few reported cases in Nigeria and Senegal, although it appears transmission of the virus has been brought under control in those nations. Over 2,400 people have died from the virus and at least 4,900 more are known to be infected, although WHO officials and others have suggested those numbers are drastically underestimated. Moreover, the disease is spreading rapidly, there are insufficient facilities to treat those infected, and health care workers have died in disproportionate numbers.

The three most affected countries have only recently emerged from political crises – in the cases of Liberia and Sierra Leone, decades of civil war – and already lacked adequate health facilities and personnel before the crisis. These factors, combined with prevalent poverty and widespread illiteracy, make controlling the Ebola outbreak a seemingly impossible task. In addition to the human toll, the crisis is crippling agricultural output and mining activities, the primary sectors of the sub-region’s economies.

Declaring the crisis “unparalleled in modern times,” the United Nations’ Ebola coordinator, David Nabarro, said that more than $1 billion is needed to end the outbreak in West Africa. Several countries and organizations have made monetary pledges to help the fight against

Ebola, but few have followed through with their commitments.

Ghana’s President John Mahama, current chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, yesterday visited Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and criticized the slow pace of assistance. “We need to speed up the roll out of all these pledges,” Mahama stated. “The processes in terms of budgeting, in terms of putting in the procurement are quite cumbersome and so, if we can speed that up, it will help greatly.”

Nevertheless, as the WHO’s Chan explained last week, “Money and materials are important, but these two things alone cannot stop Ebola virus transmission. Human resources are clearly our most important need. We need most especially compassionate doctors and nurses who will know how to comfort patients despite the barriers of wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and working under very demanding conditions.”

The Cuban team consists of health care professionals who have experience working in countries facing natural disasters and disease outbreaks and includes 100 nurses, 50 doctors, three epidemiologists, three intensive care specialists, three infection control specialist nurses, and five social mobilization officers. The team is now receiving special training in Cuba and will spend six months in Sierra Leone working in Ebola treatment centers and community clinics across the nation.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director of the WHO emphasized the significance of Cuba’s contribution: “Those of us who have been working on the response efforts at WHO know how truly valuable this offer is. Many countries have offered money but no country has offered such a large number of workers to go in and help do the most difficult job in the crisis.”

Photo: WHO’s Director, Dr. Margarat Chan and Dr Roberto Morales Ojeda, Cuba’s Minister of Public Health, at the announcement that Cuba will send a medical team of 165 people to Sierra Leone to help in the frontline in the Ebola response efforts.