After a massive outbreak of Ebola cases struck Liberia last year, with bodies scattered on the streets and sick dying in front of overwhelmed clinics, President Obama ordered the largest American intervention ever in a global health crisis, hoping to aid in the deadliest outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in world history.
However, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying nearly 3,000 troops to build Ebola treatment centers, the United States ended up creating facilities that have barely been utilized with only 28 Ebola patients ever being treated at the 11 treatment units built by United States military troops, American officials now say, the New York Times reported.
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) April 12, 2015
“My task was to convince the international organizations, ‘You don’t need any more E.T.U.s,’ ” said Dr. Hans Rosling, a Swedish public health expert who advised Liberia’s health ministry, referring to Ebola treatment units.
“I warned them, ‘The only thing you’ll show is an empty E.T.U.,’ ” he added. “ ‘Don’t do it.’ ”
The American response was too late for the fast-moving and often unpredictable deadly disease.
Facing criticism for what is being called “late efforts” and too “slow and inadequate”, Mr. Obama announced his signature plan in mid-September, focusing on Liberia, America’s historical ally.
But even before the first treatment center was built, the number in Ebola cases in Liberia had fell dramatically, casting doubt on the American strategy of building facilities that took months to complete.
The emphasis on constructing treatment centers – widely championed last year – ended up having less of an impact than frugal, nimble measures taken by residents to cease the outbreak, many officials argue.
Liberia could be declared completely Ebola free as early as May. But with health officials warning that it is only a matter of time before another outbreak hits this region, they are drawing important lessons from the successes and shortcomings of the response by international and West African leaders.