In response to the increasing need for assistance in the fight against Ebola in West Africa — already having spread through Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo — President Obama has volunteered 3,000 US troops, as well as supplies. What are the implications of this surge in US lives potentially exposed to the virus?
First, these troops will not be going in naked . They’ll have appropriate protection before entering areas of contagion. However, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee protection as the disease has steadily been spreading despite the best efforts of West African prevention and the international assistance that has already been given. Many troops will be helping with the disposal of bodies of those who have died from Ebola; which is one of the primary means of contraction of the virus, other than the transfer of bodily fluids.
Other than disposing of bodies, the US efforts will focus on training healthcare workers and building treatment and containment facilities. This all in the hopes of creating a sufficient foundation from which the disease can be managed before it spreads further through the continent.
This humanitarian effort will divert approximately $500 million from the overseas contingency budget focused on such things as the war in Afghanistan.
Over 2,400 lives have already been claimed by this particular outbreak of the disease and will only continue to rise and spread to other areas of the world, should it not be adequately contained.
The global response is escalating due to the many lives already lost and the absence of any real vaccine or cure, causing many families to turn their hopes towards black market medicines. These are a particular concern as the main method customers of this ideology are interested in is the blood of survivors. According to CNN “blood from survivors, referred to as convalescent serum, is said to have antibodies that can fight the deadly virus.” While the World Health Organization does tentatively approve of this experiment in a cure, they’re concerned about the non-prescribed or professionally-administered version desperate patients and families are turning to. This is due to the serious risk of further illness and death that can be caused by sharing blood and the insufficient research that has gone into this particular treatment method.
While natural and other immediately terrible disasters see a great response from the global and private world, health disasters usually don’t. Hopefully, however, with the response growing, the world will soon see the end to this disaster.