US Troops to Aid in Ebola Fight

Foreign aid to West Africa praised, but officials say it might not be enough

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) In an effort to fight the West African Ebola outbreak, the US has pledged to send troops to Liberia.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will announce details about the planned US aid to Liberia, one of the hardest-hit countries in the Ebola outbreak.

Despite some officials praising the promise of manpower, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others say the help might not be enough to contain the outbreak.

"During any outbreak, avoid sick people and wash your hands often."

A White House press release reports that the US will send 3,000 troops to Liberia's capital, Monrovia. There, the troops will set up a command station to coordinate relief efforts with other groups.

Army engineers will build 17 treatment centers, something the WHO says has been lacking in West Africa's overstretched health care systems.

Some of the troops to be deployed will staff a Department of Defense hospital. The hospital will treat health care workers who become sick, the White House reports.

Ebola can cause Ebola virus disease. The often fatal disease is marked by fever and bleeding. Patients in this outbreak have a 47 percent survival rate — higher than in past outbreaks, WHO reports. More than 2,400 have died.

There is no indication that the US troops will enforce quarantines some West African cities have tried to use to contain the virus, reports Reuters. Aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, said foreign troops should not help with quarantine efforts.

In another welcomed boost to foreign aid, the World Bank approved a grant today for $105 million to fight Ebola in West Africa, Reuters reports. The money will aid Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Reuters reports that United Nations (UN) estimates for the total cost of containing Ebola have reached $1 billion, however.

"The world needs to do much, much more to respond to the Ebola crisis in these three countries," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said, according to Reuters.

While officials in Liberia and aid organizations have praised recent aid, others, like MSF President Dr. Joanne Liu, are worried that the response will fall short of stopping the virus.

"We need you on the ground," she said in a speech to the UN. "The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing. We need more countries to stand up, we need greater deployment, and we need it now."

Review Date: 
September 16, 2014
Last Updated:
October 8, 2014