Amid Fear of Mutation, Ebola Gains Attention and Action
The United Nations(UN) Security Council(SC), normally charged with international peace and security concerns, will take up the current West Africa outbreak of the Ebola Virus on Thursday. Amid fears of a possible mutation of the virus into a more easily transmitted world-scare, United States(US) Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, has called the emergency session of the Security Council for Thursday to discuss potential risks of the virus which she said could "set the countries of West Africa back a generation."
The Ebola virus has already killed some 2,400 people and as the disease rages in Liberia, 1,224 have died there from 2,046 reported cases. The disease has also afflicted Sierre Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal. Sierre Leone will close down its territory for three days starting on September 19 in an attempt to isolate new cases of the virus. Last week, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf pleaded for help with the Ebola Virus from US President Barack Obama. Having already spent upward of $100 million in the fight against this dreaded disease; today, President Obama will answer the African call for more assistance and he will announce increase US action to combat the disease, which according to the Associated Press(AP), comes amid an alarm that the outbreak could spread and that the deadly virus could mutate into a more easily transmitted disease.
US action is expected to include the deployment of some 3,000 medics, logistic specialists, engineers and military personnel to support the strained healthcare systems of West Africa. In addition, President Obama will announce plans to build 17 100-bed healthcare facilities to fight Ebola in Africa. Also plans will be made to train some 500 healthcare workers a week to help in the fight against Ebola; a joint command headquarters to coordinate US and International relief efforts will be set up in Monrovia, the Liberian capital; healthcare kits will be distributed to hundreds of thousands of homes in Africa, starting with 50,000 in Liberia alone this week; and a campaign will be started to train local African populations to handle Ebola exposed patients.
With regards to Thursdays rare meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the Ebola outbreak, the session will be briefed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, World Health Organization Chief, Dr. Margaret Chan, UN coordinator to fight the disease, Dr. David Nabarro and representatives of African nations.
With this ratcheted attention and action on the Ebola Virus, defeat of this international health security threat becomes more probable. But what will Africa do in the aftermath? What social and cultural changes could Africa institute to hedge against the re-emergence of Ebola or some other dreaded contagious disease?