Ronald A. Klain, Assistant Post columnist, served as White House Ebola Response co-ordinator from 2014 to 2015.
Five years ago, the United States feared and famous for news as the worst Ebolabreak in history scattered in West Africa. Today, the second worst outbreak of the fatal disease is taking place around the world Congo, but most Americans do not know or without effort. Why is there such a difference?
In some ways, the difference is understandable. The current outbreak – as bad – is just a small fraction of the number of Ebola fatalities recorded in 2014. This outbreak hit a nation – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – with large diasporan populations in the United States. was coming alarm about relatives at risk in the home; there are far fewer immigrants from the Congo in the United States. The 2014 outbreak also triggered an unrest in the United States as Ebola's patient brought the disease to Dallas, where two nurses involved in their treatment had an illness: Ebola in America. Nothing similar was done to the current outbreak, nor – given the number of people traveling from the area concerned – the probability.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the pressure for a US response was not changed again. the head of the Obama administration in 2014 – a $ 6 billion emergency aid package, more than 10,000 US civilians working in the region. There was no need for this effort. A vaccine is now available for Ebola, developed near the 2014 outbreak. Through the work of the global vaccine alliance Gavi, nearly 90,000 Congolese received it. The World Health Organization has had a new leadership, which failed badly during the 2014 outbreak, responded competently and proactively to this outbreak.
However, even with these favorable developments, there is evidence of the success of the current mixed responses. While the WHO has recently confirmed that the outbreak is being sustained and will fall in the next six months, the death toll continues to grow (and until the outbreak is fully extinguished, anything can happen). With more than 100 armed groups in eastern Congo, which has the most severe outbreak, violence forced a number of key response organizations to withdraw; treatment facilities were attacked. And every day the outbreak continues, the risk of the catastrophic collision of the disease remains to huge refugee camps in South Sudan, or to the Congo capital of Kinshasa.
I am a Trump administrative critic, in general, but I acknowledge that much of his Ebola response to date is responsible. For example, when Donald Trump condemned on Twitter in 2014 truly the air transport Obama brought to Ebola exposed Americans back to the UHe gave State treatment for treatment, as president, he allowed such a mission to go forward last December. The United States sent millions of dollars to the effort on a global response, and to chief administrative officers – including Centers for the Director of Control and Disease Prevention. Robert Redfield – visited the region. The administration announced last week that it is taking 10 other experts fighting with diseases to the Congo (although 200 miles from the heart of the epidemic).
In summary, the Trump administration has adopted the standard measures to support a global health response. The problem is that the routine approach does not get the job this time, just as it would not be in 2014.
The lack of leadership of White House is a major challenge. Following Ebola's break in West Africa in 2015 (and after leaving the post of Ebola Response co-ordinator), President Barack Obama created a special team of the National Security Council to oversee the preparedness and response of an epidemic. permanently. Trump kept the unit in its first year, but on the day that John Bolton took over as national security advisor in 2018, he put the unit in a row and assembled his leader, Timothy Ziemer. . Bone epidemics may not have been suitable for Bolton's “hard power” perspective on security.
The Ebola fight in Congo is the sort of global health challenge that requires White House leadership. Adding more disease fighters in the Congo would be more dangerous, and closer to the outbreak, but it must be considered; So far, the White House refused to approve it. Radiation nations in the region need the pressure of White House to build a multinational response force, equipped to provide security. To prepare a widespread response if the epidemic is increasing – including a mass vaccination campaign in the Congo – resources are required at White House level. It is so sadly missing.
Widerly, the type of outbreak seen in the Congo – a harmful mix of disease, conflict, rejection of expert intervention and violence – could be the usual new way in a global disease fight. This is especially true as climate change contributes to risk factors. Instead of making efforts to address these challenges, the White House recently recommended that the US's global investment in combating infectious diseases be abolished.
In 2014, there were no simple solutions to the Ebola epidemic where 1,000 new cases occurred each week. The Obama administration took an unprecedented action to end this humanitarian crisis. It was dangerous, controversial and difficult – just like it would be today. But when they are blindthere is nothing with the big nations, there is nothing else.
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