In an address to the United Nations on the growing Ebola crisis in West Africa, President Barack Obama vowed the United States would take a central role in helping contain the deadly virus, while calling for a larger international effort to eradicate the disease.
Speaking before the UN’s High-Level Meeting on Ebola, President Obama announced that the White House would host a meeting of 44 nations tomorrow to discuss not just Ebola, but any global health threat, and use the knowledge from that meeting to help prevent any future such outbreaks, and help contain threats that could engulf the planet. “Even as we meet the urgent threat of Ebola, it’s clear that our nations must do more to prevent, detect and respond to future biological threats,” the President explained, “before they erupt into full-blown crises.”
The President did not only speak on the need to prevent future outbreaks, but on the need for an immediate international reaction to Ebola, condemning the lack of international efforts in West Africa against the virus. “We need to be honest with ourselves,” President Obama told those in attendance, “It’s not enough. There’s still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be. We know from experience that the response to an outbreak of this magnitude needs to be both fast and sustained – like a marathon, but run at the pace of a sprint.” Describing the outbreak as a “growing threat to regional and global security,” President Obama also noted the particular threat of the virus to critical infrastructure in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa began in March, and many experts believe it could have been contained should international forces have intervened appropriately earlier in the development of the outbreak. As recently as last August, Doctors Without Borders condemned the international community, alleging that the response to the Ebola outbreak has been “almost zero” and “dangerously inadequate” from nations with adequate resources to help the fledging countries of West Africa.
In mid-September, President Obama announced the deployment of 3,000 troops to west Africa to help distribute aid and combat the disease.