Obama sends 3,000 troops to W.Africa to ‘turn tide’ on Ebola

September 16, 2014 12:13 pm
A woman cries over the death of her husband from Ebola, on September 12, 2014 in Monrovia/AFP
A woman cries over the death of her husband from Ebola, on September 12, 2014 in Monrovia/AFP

, WASHINGTON, September 16- US President Barack Obama will try to “turn the tide” on the Ebola epidemic Tuesday by ordering 3,000 US military personnel to west Africa to curtail its spread as China also dispatched more experts to the region.

The White House said Obama will travel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta where US Ebola victims were treated to make the announcement, meant to spur a global effort to tackle the outbreak that has already killed 2,400 people.

It comes as alarm grows that the worst ever Ebola epidemic which spread through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea before reaching Nigeria, is out of control. A separate strain of the disease has appeared in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Most of the US effort, which will draw heavily on its military medical corps, will be concentrated in impoverished Liberia the worst hit nation with plans to build 17 Ebola treatment centres with 100 beds in each.

China is also sending more medics to neighbouring Sierra Leone to help boost laboratory testing for the virus, raising the total number of Chinese medical experts there to 174, the UN said Tuesday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday it was reconvening its emergency committee in Geneva which declared the outbreak an international health emergency in August, to consider further measures to limit its spread.

Obama will announce that US Africa Command will set up a headquarters in the Sierra Leone capital Monrovia to act as a command and control centre for US military and international relief programmes.

But the main element of the push is a six-month training and hygiene drive to tackle the disease head on.

US advisors will train up to 500 Liberian health care providers per week in how to safely handle and treat victims and their families in a bid to shore up the country’s overwhelmed health infrastructure.

The intervention will involve an estimated 3,000 US military personnel, senior officials said, many working at a staging base for transit of equipment and personnel.

Washington will also send 65 experts from the public health service corps to Liberia to manage and staff a previously announced US military hospital to care for health workers who become sick with Ebola.

Ebola prevention kits, including disinfectant and advice, will also be supplied to 400,000 of the most vulnerable families in Liberia.

“What is clear is in order to combat and contain the outbreak at its source, we need to partner and lead an international response,” said one senior US official, on condition of anonymity.

China said it is sending a mobile laboratory team to Sierra Leone, where more than 500 people have died so far from Ebola. The 59 person team from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control will include epidemiologists, clinicians and nurses, the WHO said.

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