WASHINGTON (AFP) – Congress could approve an $88 million request by President Barack Obama to back expanded efforts to combat Ebola as soon as this week, in a sign of rising US concern over the epidemic.
Obama will travel to Atlanta on Tuesday to meet medical authorities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and announce new aid to Ebola-affected regions in West Africa, which could include portable hospitals and US experts.
Congress meanwhile is expected to debate and likely pass a temporary government funding bill this week, which includes a White House request for $88 million in funding to fight Ebola.
Obama first said last week that he was going to step up US efforts to fight the Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 2,400 people.
His remarks, and a recent YouTube message from the president offering guidance to the people of Africa on halting infections, highlight increasing White House concern about the national security and humanitarian implications of the rapid spread of the disease.
File photo shows Debbie Sacra reading a book to her husband Dr Richard Sacra via a video link in Omaha, Neb. Dr Sacra was being treated for Ebola at the biocontainment unit at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb – AP
The Wall Street Journal said Monday that Obama’s initiative could also include medical supplies and training for local health workers, and would concentrate on controlling the outbreak by improving public health systems in Africa, better training for doctors and nurses and increased international support.
“There’s a lot that we’ve been putting toward this, but it is not sufficient,” Lisa Monaco, Obama’s chief counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor told the paper.
“So the president has directed a more scaled-up response and that’s what you’re going to hear more about on Tuesday.”