Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama released a video statement on the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. In the video, Obama directed his comments to West Africans navigating the epidemic. He explained how Ebola is -- and isn’t -- spread and reiterated the United States’ commitment to providing assistance. “You are not alone,” he commented in closing. “Together we can treat those who are sick with respect and dignity. We can save lives. And our countries can work together to improve public health. . . .”
We’re now learning more about what that American response entails and how much U.S. support West Africans can really expect. A recent U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) press release commits to “providing resources for 1,000 new beds, 130,000 sets of personal protective equipment, and 50,000 hygiene kits.” The U.S. Department of Defense will also pitch in. During a Sunday interview on Meet the Press, Obama explained that the U.S. military would set up isolation units and equipment in disease-ridden areas to provide security to “health workers surging from around the world.” Department of Defense personnel will build a $22 million, 25-bed field hospital in Liberia to provide care for Ebola-stricken health workers.
Analysts have panned the 25-bed field hospital as a paltry response, where Doctors Without Borders have estimated that 800 beds would be needed in the capital city alone. Patients are being turned away from hospitals for lack of beds -- a problem that has been ongoing since at least late July. The West African Ebola virus outbreak has already claimed 2,226 lives, including many doctors, nurses, and other health care workers caring for the infected. And it shows no signs of slowing down. Rather, the infection rate looks to be increasing exponentially -- meaning that many more lives will be lost before the epidemic is brought under control. More than half of those who have contracted the Ebola virus in the current outbreak have died.
Although the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has been raging
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