FACT SHEET: U.S. Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 17, 2014


A Little girl (infected by Ebola) was left on the sidewalk by her aunt to die.
Courtesy of NY Times

As the President has stated, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the humanitarian crisis there is a top national security priority for the United States.  In order to contain and combat it, we are partnering with the United Nations and other international partners to help the Governments of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal respond just as we fortify our defenses at home. Every outbreak of Ebola over the past 40 years has been contained, and we are confident that this one can—and will be—as well.
Our strategy is predicated on four key goals:

The United States has applied a whole-of-government response to the epidemic, which we launched shortly after the first cases were reported in March. As part of this, we have dedicated additional resources across the federal government to address the crisis, committing more than $175 million to date. We continue to work with Congress to provide additional resources through appropriations and reprogramming efforts in order to be responsive to evolving resource needs on the ground.  Just as the outbreak has worsened, our response will be commensurate with the challenge.
New Resources to Confront a Growing Challenge
The United States will leverage the unique capabilities of the U.S. military and broader uniformed services to help bring the epidemic under control. These efforts will entail command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.

Simple and scalable strategies that complement the use of Ebola Treatment Units are urgently required to disrupt the disease’s transmission. A community- and home-based strategy that supports household and communities is a critical step to moving forward:


A Complement to Efforts To-Date
Applying this whole-of-government approach, we have been engaged on this outbreak since March when the first cases were reported in West Africa. We currently have in the affected countries more than 100 specialists from multiple U.S. departments and agencies, including the Departments of State and Health and Human Services (HHS), the CDC, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and DoD. We also are working intensively on this effort with the United Nations, including the World Health Organization, the governments of the affected countries, and other partners, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, the Africa Union, and European Union.

Screening Efforts Overseas
In addition to our efforts to help the affected West African countries bring this outbreak under control, we have taken steps to fortify against the introduction of Ebola cases into the United States. It is important to note that Ebola is not highly contagious like the flu; to the contrary, the virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a symptomatic individual.

Preparedness at Home
Despite the tragic epidemic in West Africa, U.S. health professionals agree it is highly unlikely that we would experience an Ebola outbreak here in the United States, given our robust health care infrastructure and rapid response capabilities. Nevertheless, we have taken extra measures to prevent the unintentional importation of cases into the United States, and if a patient does make it here, our national health system has the capacity and expertise to quickly detect and contain this disease.

Securing the Future
The Ebola epidemic reminds us that our global efforts to build the capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats like Ebola have never been more vital.  In February, we came together with nations around the world to launch the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) as a five year effort to accelerate action.

Source: Whitehouse

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