President Obama will announce today that 3,000 military personnel are to be sent to West Africa to assist the gravely outnumbered healthcare workers fighting the Ebola virus.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the primary initiatives are to build 17 new healthcare facilities with 100 beds each and train as many as 500 healthcare workers a week.
The US personnel will also provide home healthcare kits to approximately 50,000 households and establish a joint operations center in the capital of Liberia to set up further US and international programs.
It is expected to take the US forces about two weeks to get set up on the ground.
The US military personnel will consist of medics, engineers to build treatment facilities and logistics specialists to maximize the transportation of patients.
The Pentagon has asked that these efforts be paid for with the United State’s $500 million budget for overseas contingency operations.
Obama’s planned announcement will come after reports that the virus could mutate into an even more easily-transmitted disease and reach the US by the end of the month.
Washington has been heavily criticized for not taking the epidemic seriously enough, as Ebola has taken over 2,200 lives, infected over 4,000 people and is spreading at an exponential rate.
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations African affairs subcommittee, said of the initiative,
This humanitarian intervention should serve as a firewall against a global security crisis that has the potential to reach American soil.
The US has spent more than $100 million to combat Ebola so far.
Cuba and China have committed to sending medical staff to Sierra Leone, one of the four most affected nations. Cuba will send 165 people in October, and China will build a laboratory to ramp up testing for the disease.
There is already a Chinese-funded hospital in Sierra Leone with 115 staff members.
An additional $58 million from the US will go towards increasing production of ZMapp, the drug cocktail that cured the first Americans to contract the disease last July.
The World Health Organization estimates that the affected nations will need at least four times the amount of healthcare workers they have now to prevent the disease from spreading out of West Africa.
via Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Photo Credit: Getty Images