US President Barack Obama has asked his countrymen not to let down their guard even for a minute against the Ebola outbreak
in West Africa and urged Congress for more funds to crush the disease and prepare the world against other potential contagious outbreaks.
“We cannot beat Ebola without more funding. If we want more countries to keep stepping up we will have to continue to lead the way,” Obama said Tuesday during a visit to the National Institutes of Health, on the outskirts of Washington.
He asked Congress to approve a request for $6.18 billion in emergency spending to fight Ebola before the Christmas holidays.
Though the US has already contributed $400 million to fight the outbreak, Obama warned that the funds were drying up and that the disease continued to be a matter of priority.
“As long as this disease continues to rage in West Africa, we could continue to see isolated cases here in America. This can still spread to other countries as seen in Mali,” the president warned.
The funds to fight Ebola are among the tasks pending before the US Congress. Other priority subjects for the White House include a budget approval for the 2015 fiscal year and a legal foundation in the war against the Islamic State Sunni radical group in the Middle East.
As for the Ebola funds, $4.64 billion have been sought for covering immediate necessities and $1.54 billion in contingency funds for the fiscal year 2015 for research of vaccines and strengthening the capacities to prevent the spread of contagions in the future.
Obama also defended the deployment of around 2,000 soldiers in West Africa for logistical tasks, saying that it has begun to bear fruit, and also highlighted advances made against the disease.
Among the advances, he cited the example of an experimental Ebola vaccine which has emerged successful so far during initial tests on humans.
The World Health Organisation reported Tuesday that so far 6,055 people have died from Ebola, an epidemic that has infected 17,111 people in the three most affected countries, namely Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry.
Against this backdrop, Obama said, “American leadership matters every time. We set the tone and we set the agenda.”