In a video conference on Tuesday, October 14, with leaders from 21 countries, President Obama stressed that the international community was not doing enough to combat the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
“As I’ve said before, and I’m going to keep on repeating until we start seeing more progress, the world as a whole is not doing enough…. There are a number of countries that have capacity that have not yet stepped up.” – President Obama
That same day, the World Health Organization warned that we could start seeing as many as 10,000 new cases of Ebola per month. Although WHO’s official tally puts the death toll at 4,447 out of 8,914 reported cases, Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general of WHO, suggested that there may be more deaths that have not been officially recorded.
“As I’ve said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority. This is not just a matter of charity — although obviously the humanitarian toll in countries that are affected in West Africa is extraordinarily significant. This is an issue about our safety. It is also an issue with respect to the political stability and the economic stability in this region.
And so it is very important for us to make sure that we are treating this the same way that we would treat any other significant national security threat. And that’s why we’ve got an all-hands-on-deck approach — from DOD to public health to our development assistance, our science teams — everybody is putting in time and effort to make sure that we are addressing this as aggressively as possible.” – President Obama after meeting with several senior officials and staff on the U.S. Ebola response
On Friday the White House had a high level briefing for the media on the question of the danger of the spread of the Ebola virus. One of the briefing’s takeaways was that Ebola is indeed a national security risk for the United States. Present at the meeting was the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Commander of AFRICOM. Another message was that with the advanced medical and scientific infrastructure we have in America it is highly unlikely that it would be a major risk for Americans and could and would be contained even as the first American based case occurred in the Washington DC area and several other new cases are under observation and treatment.