Washington — The infection rate in West Africa's Ebola outbreak has the world health community scrambling to marshal all available resources to help.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing an additional $5 million to combat the outbreak. The August 27 announcement brings USAID's commitment for the Ebola response to nearly $19.6 million since the outbreak was first reported in March.
Jeremy Konyndyk, director of USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, announced the additional funding in Monrovia, Liberia, during his three-day visit with Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Konyndyk and Frieden arrived in Monrovia on August 24 to assess the impact of the Ebola outbreak first-hand, review response activities, and discuss disease prevention and treatment strategies with Liberian officials.
"It will take a coordinated effort by the entire international community to contain the spread of Ebola," Konyndyk said. "The United States is working closely with the World Health Organization, the governments of affected countries, and other partners on the ground to identify the greatest needs and deploy critical resources to affected areas."
The additional funding will be used to provide health equipment and emergency supplies, train and support health care workers on infection control and case management, support public outreach campaigns, and help build the capacity of local health care and emergency response systems.
The announcement comes just days after USAID airlifted more than 16 tons of medical supplies and emergency equipment to Liberia, including 10,000 sets of personal protective equipment, water treatment systems, water tanks capable of storing 10,000 liters each, and 100 rolls of plastic sheeting, which can be used in the construction of Ebola treatment units.
USAID deployed a multi-agency Disaster Assistance Response Team on August 5 to coordinate the U.S. Ebola response efforts in West Africa. The DART has more than 25 members operating in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION ASSESSMENT
Also on August 27, the World Health Organization predicted Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across West Africa by the time the outbreak is over.
The U.N. agency's assessment coincided with its launch of a $490 million campaign to fight the epidemic that it says has killed at least 1,550 people.
WHO reports the total number of reported cases has topped 3,000, but added the actual number could be two to four times higher. The majority of the infections have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The agency said the outbreak "continues to accelerate," but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas.
Nigeria's health ministry reported two more cases of Ebola on August 27, bringing the country's total to 15. Six people have now died from Ebola in Nigeria during the latest outbreak.
WHO said 80 people are being monitored for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo in an outbreak that is not related to the one in West Africa.