Ebola is becoming a major threat to human life in Africa, 90% of those who become infected die and there is always a chance that if enough people get the disease it could mutate to a form which might become capable of spreading as an airborne disease, turning it instantly into a global pandemic.
Today President Obama has ordered the U.S. military to respond to the crisis by sending troops and supplies to construct badly needed field hospitals.
Is this a case of far too little, much too late?
The move was probably unrelated, but this announcement follows by one day China’s announcement that it is continuing its governmental lead in fighting Ebola by sending a team of 59 additional medical researchers including epidemiologists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control to join the more than 100 Chinese government medical workers already on the ground in Sierra Leone.
Doctors without Borders has been overwhelmed by the need and has been asking/begging for more international support for months.
Just this Monday White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it was very unlikely that Ebola could mutate and become a threat to the U.S. Interestingly enough the move to send military in to assist came later, after the President met with CDC officials leading some to speculate that he may have been given additional information about viral mutation possibilities.
Heavy rains in the worst-hit areas combined with a failing infrastructure which was fragile to begin with, and fear-driven work stoppages are all leading to what could be a major humanitarian crisis as food supplies are dwindling in the region due to the inability to distribute available supplies.
This, of course, will lead to a major increase in other diseases as people weaken and begin foraging for food which they would normally not eat and drink water they would normally avoid.
The U.N. has estimated that it would cost about $1 Billion to effectively combat the spread of Ebola today. That number will only rise as the disease spreads and other medical needs increase.
Although the President can dispatch troops without Congressional approval, the U.S. do nothing Congress will need to appropriate funds to continue the mission and for additional research as well as medical supplies.