The World Health Organization (WHO) released the latest data it has received on the West African Ebola outbreak on Sept. 26. Districts near the Liberian border with the Ivory Coast have reported their first Ebola infections and that suggests a growing threat for the spread of the disease to that nation. Sierra Leone has released a more current report on the Ebola situation in that country. Together with the data from the WHO report, the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have resulted in 6,652 illnesses and 3,055 deaths.
The assistance promised by other countries is beginning to arrive in the region. The largest commitment of personnel is from the United States, and its military and civilian assistance agencies are in action at this time. The U.S. has provided $95 million in funding at this point as part of a total pledge of $175 million.
The U.S. Africa Command has established a Joint Forces Command in Monrovia, Liberia, headed by Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams. This unit will coordinate the activities of military and civilian assistance, including the logistics involved with moving personnel and materials in to the region and within the region. SeaBees, U.S. Navy construction specialists, have been assigned to move from Djibouti to the region to begin building the 27 field hospitals that the U.S. intends to set up.
On Sept. 19, a C-17 carrying military personnel and equipment assigned to the Ebola fight arrived in Monrovia. The initial mission was to ready that airport for the arrival of multiple cargo flights, and to establish a robust freight loading and unloading operation.
On Sept. 26, Air Force personnel accompanied a pre-packaged modular medical treatment center being transported to West Africa. “The Air Force’s Expeditionary Medical Support System fulfilled that request, meaning Operation United Assistance — the designation for Ebola Relief missions — receives the largest version of the EMEDS facility. The facility can treat a population at risk of up to 6,500.”
The Agency for International Development (USAID) is leading the civilian assistance for the U.S. In August, it dispatched a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to West Africa, to assess the needs of the nations fighting Ebola. This was the first foreign deployment for a DART team.
USAID helped reopen a neglected medical facility in Monrovia on Sept. 21. The Island Clinic had been in operation during Liberia’s long civil war but had been neglected. The WHO and the Liberian government worked to refurbish the facility and reopen it as a 100 bed clinic for Ebola patients. USAID was able to provide two generators, water pumps, washing machines and other vital materials for facilitate the opening.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control are coordinating their Ebola fighting efforts through their Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Over 700 CDC personnel are working in various capacities in the U.S. on the outbreak, in research, in border protection and in logistics for efforts in the field. Over 90 CDC personnel are deployed to West Africa.
The U.S. buildup in West Africa is slated to continue for some time. A staging area in Senegal is being set up, and most of the 3,000 American troops deployed for the Ebola crisis will be assigned there. Uniformed officers of the U.S. Public Health Service are in the field in the region with the CDC, and the agency is preparing to deploy one of several existing Rapid Deployment Forces to provide staffing for the Air Force’s Expeditionary Medical Support System or at other locations.