Obama Pushes Public Health Approach to Ebola Outbreak vs. Untested Drugs


Although the U.S. Government is conscious of the current Ebola crisis in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and willing to help to contain it, President Barack Obama has attributed the rapid spread of the disease to lack of improved health facilities in the affected countries.

Making the observation recently in Washington, DC at a press conference following the U.S-Africa Summit, President Obama stated that Ebola now and of the past can b controlled when there is a strong public health infrastructure in place.

“Well, I think we’ve got to let the science guide us. And I don’t think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful.  What we do know is that the Ebola virus, both currently and in the past, is controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure in place.”

He said because health facilities in these countries are so overwhelmed that cases of the disease are not identified and isolated, it is rapidly spreading and killing people.

“And the countries that have been affected are the first to admit that what’s happened here is that their public health systems have been overwhelmed.  They weren’t able to identify and then isolate cases quickly enough.  You did not have a strong trust relationship between some of the communities that were affected and public health workers.  As a consequence, it spread more rapidly than has been typical with the periodic Ebola outbreaks that have occurred previously.”

Addressing Journalists following a question about whether U.S may help to provide some medication if medicine used to treat those Americans flown to USA proves effective, President Obama cautioned that the disease is not airborne and can be controlled and contained if the right protocols are followed.

“But despite obviously the extraordinary pain and hardship of the families and persons who’ve been affected, and despite the fact that we have to take this very seriously, it is important to remind ourselves this is not an airborne disease; this is one that can be controlled and contained very effectively if we use the right protocols.”

However, the President gave the assurance that the U.S. Government was working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and European partners to help address the worsening Ebola crisis in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“So what we’ve done is to make sure that we’re surging not just U.S. resources, but we’ve reached out to European partners and partners from other countries, working with the WHO.  Let’s get all the health workers that we need on the ground.  Let’s help to bolster the systems that they already have in place. Let’s nip as early as possible any additional outbreaks of the disease.  And then during the course of that process, I think it’s entirely appropriate for us to see if there are additional drugs or medical treatments that can improve the survivability of what is a very deadly and obviously brutal disease.”

The President also indicated that U.S. is focusing on the public health approach and will seek information about what is being discovered with respect to the drugs scientists are studying to use as medication for Ebola. 


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