US President Barack Obama has said the global community has not done enough to respond to the crisis posed by the Ebola outbreak that is currently spiralling out of control in West Africa.
“There is still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be,” Obama said on Thursday while addressing a high-level UN meeting on Ebola.
The crisis in West Africa is the largest ever outbreak of Ebola so far, with more than 6,200 people believed to have been infected, almost half of whom have died.
US health officials have warned that the number of infected people could explode to at least 1.4 million by mid-January, though they have also cautioned that the total number could peak well below if efforts are ramped up.
Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organisation, addressed the Ebola meeting before Obama and warned that the outbreak would probably get worse before it got better. The virus, she said, was “still running ahead, jumping over everything we put in place to slow it down”.
‘Step up’ efforts
Obama has dispatched 3,000 US troops to Liberia to set up facilities and form training teams to help treat Ebola victims.
|Ebola death toll by country as of 25/9/2014|
On Thursday, politicians in the US Congress also approved the use of leftover Afghanistan war money to begin funding Obama’s $1bn request to help fight the outbreak.
While Obama touted US contributions, he warned other countries that the US does not have the capacity to fight the epidemic on its own.
“Everybody’s got to move fast in order for us to make a difference,” he said. “If we do, we’ll save hundreds of thousands of lives.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged world leaders to “step up” efforts to fight Ebola.
Meanwhile in Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma announced on Wednesday that three districts and 12 tribal chiefdoms were to be placed under indefinite quarantine, sealing off about 1.2 million people.