President Barack Obama said the world is making progress in fighting the Ebola outbreak, but far more needs to be done by every nation.
President Barack Obama speaks about the Ebola epidemic during the UN General Assembly at the United Nations in New York, September 25, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB)
“This is progress, and it is encouraging, but we need to be honest with ourselves, it’s not enough,” Obama said speaking at the United Nations High Level Meeting on Ebola Thursday. “There’s still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be.”
The deadly Ebola virus has spread through Africa, and some American doctors doing mission work also got the disease.
“We know from experience that the response to an outbreak of this magnitude needs to be both fast and sustained – like a marathon, but run at the pace of a sprint,” the president continued. “That’s only possible if every nation and every organization does its part. And everybody here has to do more.”
Obama explained how the world responds could make the difference in how many thousands will die.
“The outbreak at this point, more people will die,” Obama said. “But slope of the curve depends on how fast we can arrest it, how quickly we can contain it, if we move fast, even if imperfectly, that can mean the difference in 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 or 100,000 lives. This is not a time for wrangling and people waiting see who’s doing what first.”
Obama repeatedly asserted that combatting the spread of Ebola is a major national security priority for the United States, but sternly told delegations from around the world gathered in New York, “Do not stand by and think that because of what we’ve done it’s taken care of. It’s not.”
Obama said that the United States is training thousands of health workers from around the world to deal with Ebola in Africa, distributing supplies and information kits hundreds of thousands of families to help them protect themselves and building new treatment units in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. He added that the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response to bring the world body’s humanitarian resources to fight the epidemic.
Back in Washington on Friday, Obama will host 44 nations for a meeting on global health security to be ready for not only Ebola, but the next potential health crisis as well, he said.
“Thousands of men, women and children have died,” Obama told the UN. “Thousands more are infected. If unchecked, this epidemic could kill hundreds of thousands of people in the coming months. Hundreds of thousands.”