US to Send 3,000 Military Personnel, $750 Million to Fight Ebola in West Africa

( [email protected] ) Sep 16, 2014 01:43 PM EDT
Ebola Outbreak
A government health worker at the Kenema Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone. IRIN/Tommy Trenchard

As the Ebola virus death toll hits 2, 2000, President Obama will reportedly send up to 3,000 military personnel to five West African countries to combat the worst outbreak in history.

Fox News reports that on Tuesday, Obama will announce the offensive against the outbreak in in an effort that could cost up to $750 million over the next six months.

The U.S. Defense Department has asked Congress for nearly $500 million in existing funds to provide medical and logistical support to overtaxed local health care systems in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Monrovia.

"The Department of Defense's number one priority is combating Ebola," stated Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.

The new initiatives include "training as many as 500 health care workers a week; establishing 17 heath care facilities with approximately 100 beds each; setting up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate between U.S. and international relief efforts; providing home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will deliver to Liberia this week; and carrying out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on how to handle exposed patients."

Officials told the Associated Press that it would take about two weeks for U.S. forces to get on the ground. The U.S. effort will include medics and corpsmen for treatment and training, engineers to help erect the treatment facilities and specialists in logistics to assist in patient transportation.

The World Health Organization reports that the death toll in the Ebola outbreak is expected to reach 10,000 before six months from now, and some estimates believe it will reach 500,000 before it is contained.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick patients, making doctors and nurses especially vulnerable to contracting the virus that has no vaccine or approved treatment.

Four Americans have been treated for the virus in the U.S., including Dr. Kent Brantly, who was working in Liberia with Christian organization Samaritan's Purse when he contracted the disease.

Following the news of Brantly's miraculous recovery, Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham released a statement encouraging Christians to those affected by Ebola and emphasized the importance of spiritual care as well as practical aid.

"I know that Dr. Brantly and his wonderful family would ask that you please remember and pray for those in Africa battling, treating and suffering from Ebola. Those who have given up the comforts of home to serve the suffering and the less fortunate are in many ways just beginning this battle.

"We have more than 350 staff in Liberia, and others will soon be joining them, so please pray for those who have served with Dr. Brantly-along with the other doctors, aid workers and organizations that are at this very moment desperately trying to stop Ebola from taking any more lives."