President Barack Obama and the United Nations met in a general assembly to discuss an international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa Thursday. The disease epidemic, centered in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, has been declared a national security priority. Some believe it could spread farther afield and claim more lives. President Obama declared the epidemic from dangerous to deadly during the high-level meeting. According to CNN, “If ever there were a public health emergency deserving of an urgent, strong and coordinated international response, this is it,” the President said.
On Wednesday, the Sierra Leone government declared a successful three-day nation wide lockdown to control the spread of Ebola. The government took action to take a closer look of more revealed cases hidden within the community. During the three days, as families stayed in their homes, volunteers went door-to-door to educate people about the deadly virus.
“This is a growing thread to regional and global security. In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, public health systems are near collapse. Economic growth is slowing dramatically. If the epidemic is not stopped, this disease could cause a humanitarian catastrophe across the region.” the President said.
Help efforts from the United States was highlighted by the President, including the establishment of a military command in Liberia to support civilian efforts. However, the President recommended international organizations and businesses to move faster on mobilizing parters on the ground. The head of medical organizations, Doctors Without Borders, will appeal to the world leaders at the meeting to take immediate action or risk losing the fight to contain the epidemic.
Dr. Joanne Liu, International President of Doctors without borders, warned the U.N. that infection rates double every three weeks in the worst-affected nations, while growing numbers are dying of other diseases like malaria because health care systems have collapsed.