The Following is VIA NationalJournal.com
Ebola survivor Kent Brantly said it’s “time to think outside the box” for ways to combat the virus’s worst outbreak in history, which continues to ravage West Africa.
The physician was treating Ebola patients in Liberia when he tested positive for the disease on July 26. He is one of four American aid workers flown back to the United States for treatment.
In a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Tuesday, Brantly implored the international community to ramp up relief efforts, calling on the U.S. to lead the efforts. His testimony came on the same day President Obama announced a new stepped-up strategy for U.S. efforts to combat the epidemic.
Obama said Tuesday that 3,000 U.S. military personnel will be dispatched to help battle the Ebola crisis that is raging in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The president explained his plan from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Obama and Brantly met in the Oval Office ahead of the announcement Tuesday.
WHO said on Tuesday that at least $1 billion will be required to keep the number of infections in the “tens of thousands.” The organization’s previous estimate was $600 million to control the outbreak in the next six to nine months.
Yet the international response to Ebola has been slow-moving and disorganized to this point, drawing heavy criticism from aid organizations that have been sending warnings about the rapidly escalating outbreak for months.
“This unprecedented outbreak began nine months ago but received very little attention from the international community until the events of mid-July, when my friend and colleague, Nancy Writebol, and I became infected,” Brantly said in his opening testimony. “Since that time, there has been intense media attention and therefore increased awareness of the situation on the ground in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and neighboring countries. The response, however, is still unacceptably out of step with the size and scope of the problem now before us.”
Brantly called WHO’s response thus far “painfully slow and ineffective,” due to heavy bureaucracy. “It is imperative that the U.S. take the lead instead of relying on other agencies.”
Obama’s announcement Tuesday is an attempt to take the reins in combating the outbreak. The effort, including the influx of military personnel, could cost as much as $750 million over the next six months, senior administration officials said.