U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has promised a sustained response to the West African Ebola crisis.
During a visit Wednesday to the headquarters the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, Power said the U.S. government is committed to reversing the rising curve of infections and deaths caused by Ebola.
“I think we need to be very clear that our goal is not simply to bend the curve, it is to end the curve,” Power said. “And this is something because of the commitments that have been made, because of the mobilization that is being done, that we are confident will result, because it must result in the outstanding gaps being filled. We can see the day when those gaps are filled and when the curve is not simply bent, but is ended.”
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola has killed nearly 5,000 people and sickened 10,000, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
UNMEER head Anthony Banbury says more supplies, money and doctors are needed. The mission still needs to build 20 Ebola treatment centers and 300 community care centers, which are critical to ending the disease, Banbury says.
Power urged countries that are not involved in fighting the outbreak to help.
“Whether it is something as basic as soap or whether it is the underfunded U.N. appeals. Whether it is the number of helicopters that can get people into the remote areas, there are huge gaps and countries that have not stepped up at this point have to step up,” she said. “They can be part of a winning enterprise.”
Power added that the U.S. recognizes the need to fight the virus in West Africa to prevent further travelers from bringing cases into the country.
“We have a humanitarian solidarity and great empathy for people who are going through something this trying and this horrific, particularly the countries that are affected,” Power noted, “particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone, that have made such strides and have come so far. We want to stand with the people in those countries and help them get through this. But we also recognize in coming toward the epidemic, running into the burning building as it were, that it is in our national security interest to do this.”
Power’s visit to West Africa comes on the heels of a U.S. military deployment to Liberia to combat the disease.
Ebola spread to the U.S. last month when Thomas Duncan, a Liberian man, traveled to Dallas. He later died from the disease, after infecting two nurses, who survived.
Power plans to travel next to Brussels to meet with European Union officials.