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US$135m for Ebola Countries

US$50m has been pledged by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to buttress efforts against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Cable News Network or CNN quoted the  foundation as saying the money will be used to enable international aid organizations and national governments “to purchase badly needed supplies and scale up emergency operations in affected countries.”

According to the CNN, it will also “work with public and private sector partners to accelerate the development of therapies, vaccines, and diagnostics that could be effective in treating patients and preventing further transmission of the disease.”

Meanwhile, to help ease some of the burden on West Africa’s already over-taxed medical system, the United States Government announced Tuesday it will send US$10 million in additional funds- that’s in addition to the US$100 million Washington has already sent to help fight the outbreak. USAID also announced it will make US$75 million in extra funds available.

The CNN said the new funds will pay for transportation and support to send 100 more healthcare workers to help fight the epidemic. The WHO and several nonprofit agencies on the ground here has repeatedly called for the international community to send additional trained help.

USAID funding has already provided 130,000 sets of personal protective equipment, 50,000 hygiene kits, and 1,000 new beds. USAID has created a website where trained nurses, physician assistants or doctors who want to help can sign up.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama described the current Ebola outbreak as a “national security priority.” The CNN quoted Obama  as telling the NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the U.S. military could help set up isolation units and provide security for public health workers.

“If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates. It becomes more easily transmittable. And then it could be a serious danger to the United States,” he said.

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This is considered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. The World Health Organization is quoted as saying on Monday the rapid spread of the virus in Liberia shows no sign of slowing. “The number of new cases is increasing exponentially,” WHO said, calling the situation a “dire emergency with Unprecedented dimensions of human suffering.”

More than 2,200 people have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak. Cases have also been reported in Nigeria and Senegal. The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine began last week at the National Institutes of Health.

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