U.S. Response to Ebola – Letter to the Sunday Mail

Ambassador D.Bruce Wharton
Ambassador D.Bruce Wharton

The Editor
Attention: Mabasa Sasa
The Sunday Mail
Herald House

Dear Mr. Sasa,

Since the first cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa in March 2014, the United States has committed more than $350 million toward fighting Ebola in West Africa, has deployed more than 360 civilian and military experts to address the outbreak, and has provided more than 10,000 Ebola test kits in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

That’s why I was deeply disappointed in the cartoon featured in the October 12, 2014 edition of The Sunday Mail and its suggestion that the United States is not supporting efforts to address the Ebola epidemic on the continent.

In reality, the United States has mounted an unprecedented whole-of-government response to contain and eliminate the epidemic at its source, while also taking prudent measures to prepare for future Ebola cases on U.S. soil.

The U.S. effort to fight this public health crisis is based on four key pillars: controlling the epidemic at its source in West Africa; mitigating second-order impacts including blunting the epidemic’s economic, social, and political tolls; engaging and coordinating with a broader global audience; and fortifying global health security infrastructure.

In September, President Obama outlined a stepped-up U.S. response– coordinated with the international community– that supports national and local governmental efforts in West Africa.  The United States has already committed more than $350 million toward fighting the outbreak in West Africa and the U.S. Department of Defense is prepared to devote more than $1 billion to the Ebola response effort.

As part of our international response to the Ebola epidemic, the United States has deployed

to West Africa the largest ever U.S. response to an international public health challenge, including more than 130 civilian medical, healthcare, and disaster response experts from multiple U.S. government departments and agencies as well more than 230 U.S. military personnel.

We have procured 140,000 sets of personal protective equipment; increased the number of Ebola treatment units in the region; and supported aggressive public education campaigns that empower Liberians to identity, treat and prevent Ebola.  These are just a few of the steps the United States has taken, and I have attached a fact sheet with more information about the U.S. response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Our U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zimbabwe office is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and local authorities to ensure effective monitoring and prevention of disease outbreaks in Zimbabwe.  In fact, our strengthening of health systems through laboratory and other support mechanisms is designed to ensure that Zimbabwe has adequate capacity to respond to Ebola and other public health epidemics.  CDC-Zimbabwe Country Director Dr. Peter Kilmarx has spent the past month serving as CDC’s Ebola Response Team Leader in Sierra Leone.  We believe that Dr. Kilmarx’s experience in Sierra Leone will allow him to better support Zimbabwe’s public health sector.

The United States will continue to work with international partners to stop the epidemic at its source in West Africa and to address the humanitarian and economic toll faced by the affected countries.

As President Obama said during a September visit to the CDC, “Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States, and it’s a responsibility that we embrace.”

Sincerely,

Bruce Wharton

U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe