Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security

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Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security
Dr. Mitchell Levy, father of Ashoka Mukpo, an American freelance cameraman who is diagnosed with Ebola, talks with a reporter at his home in Providence, R.I., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Diana Mukpo, mother of Ashoka Mukpo, speaks to the media Monday, Oct 6, 2014, on the treatment of her son, at a news conference in Omaha, Neb. Mukpo arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center's specialized isolation unit Monday, where he will be treated for the deadly disease. He is an American video journalist who was working in Liberia as a freelance cameraman for NBC News when he became ill last week. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)
Dr Mitchell Levy, center, father of Ashoka Mukpo, speaks to the media Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 on the treatment of his son at a news conference in Omaha, Neb. Mukpo arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center's specialized isolation unit Monday, where he will be treated for the deadly disease. He is an American video journalist who was working in Liberia as a freelance cameraman for NBC News when he became ill last week. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)
Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, former Medical Director of Samaritan's Purse Ebola Care Center in Monrovia, Liberia, waits to testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education joint hearing on, "Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat," on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, former Medical Director of Samaritan's Purse Ebola Care Center in Monrovia, Liberia, testifies before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education joint hearing on, "Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat," on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
A health worker, wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), enters a decontamination airlock on September 7, 2014 at Elwa hospital in Monrovia, which is run by the non-governmental French organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders -- MSF). US President Barack Obama said in an interview aired on September 7 the US military would help in the fight against fast-spreading Ebola in Africa, but warned it would be months before the epidemic slowed. The tropical virus, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has killed 2,100 people in four countries since the start of the year -- more than half of them in Liberia. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A medical worker wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gestures beside a woman inside the high-risk area of the Elwa hospital runned by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), where are being treated Ebola patients, on September 7, 2014 in Monrovia. President Barack Obama said in an interview aired September 7 the US military would help in the fight against fast-spreading Ebola in Africa, but said it would be months before the epidemic slows. The death toll from the Ebola epidemic -- which is spreading across West Africa, with Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone the worst hit -- has topped 2,000, of nearly 4,000 people who have been infected, according to the World Health Organization. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
French nurse Lucie Perardel from Grenoble puts on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as she prepares before leaving for a high-risk area of the Elwa hospital runned by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders), on September 7, 2014 in Monrovia. President Barack Obama said in an interview aired September 7 the US military would help in the fight against fast-spreading Ebola in Africa, but said it would be months before the epidemic slows. The death toll from the Ebola epidemic -- which is spreading across West Africa, with Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone the worst hit -- has topped 2,000, of nearly 4,000 people who have been infected, according to the World Health Organization. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the cleaning staff cleans and desinfects the site on August 14, 2014 in Biankouma during a simulation operation organized by the Ivory Coast Health Ministry to train medical staff in the west of the country to treat potential patients with Ebola. US President Barack Obama called his counterparts in Liberia and Sierra Leone on August 14 to discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House said. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
A nurse leaves an isolation room after checking a man on August 14, 2014 at the district hospital of Biankouma, during a simulation operation organized by the Ivory Coast Health Ministry to train medical staff to treat potential patients with Ebola. US President Barack Obama called his counterparts in Liberia and Sierra Leone on August 14 to discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House said. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Strechers carry a man on a stretcher in an isolation room on August 14, 2014 at the district hospital of Biankouma, during a simulation operation organized by the Ivory Coast Health Ministry to train medical staff to deal with potential patients with Ebola. US President Barack Obama called his counterparts in Liberia and Sierra Leone on August 14 to discuss the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House said. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Obama traveled to the CDC, to address the Ebola crisis and announced that he is sending 3,000 American troops to West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola epidemic. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Obama traveled to the CDC, to address the Ebola crisis and announced that he is sending 3,000 American troops to West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola epidemic. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Obama traveled to the CDC to address the Ebola crisis and announced that he is sending 3,000 American troops to West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola epidemic. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama, center, and from left, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, during a briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Obama traveled to the CDC, to address the Ebola crisis and announced that he is sending 3,000 American troops to West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola epidemic. Obama (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama, right, meets on the tarmac with, from left to right, Jack Longino, Mayor of College Park, Ga., Clayton County Chairman Jeffrey Turner, Fulton County Commissioner John Eaves and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, during his arrival on Air Force One at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Atlanta. Obama traveled to Atlanta to visit the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), to address the Ebola crisis and announce a plan to help the West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola virus. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama, right, is greeted by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, center, and Fulton County Commissioner, John Eaves, left, on the tarmac during his arrival on Air Force One at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Atlanta. Obama is traveling to Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), to address the Ebola crisis and announce a plan to help the West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola virus. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama, left, walks down the stairs of Air Force One accompanied by Sec. of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, center, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, right, during their arrival at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Atlanta. Obama is traveling to Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), to address the Ebola crisis and announce a plan to help the West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola virus. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Military personnel salute Air Force One, with President Barack Obama aboard before departure at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Obama is traveling to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, to address the Ebola crisis and announce a plan to help the West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola virus. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, former Medical Director of Samaritan's Purse Ebola Care Center in Monrovia, Liberia, left, shakes hands with Dr. Anthony Fauci, center, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education hearing on Ebola on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Dr. Robin Robinson, Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the Department of Health and Human Services stands at right. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, second from right, former Medical Director of Samaritan's Purse Ebola Care Center in Monrovia, Liberia, smiles as he and his wife Amber, left, are recognized at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education joint hearing on, "Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat," on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
MONROVIA, LIBERIA-SEPTEMBER 16: People rush to line up at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare seeking work from the anticipated Ebola related jobs that will be coming to Liberia on Tuesday September 16, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Since the outbreak of Ebola and a subsequent curfew people have not been able to work. President Obama's announcement of help has given some people hope, at least for pending jobs to fight Ebola. (Photo by Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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By JIM KUHNHENN

ATLANTA (AP) - Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that both the financial and human cost of the outbreak is spiraling out of control.

Obama also called on other countries to quickly supply more helpers, supplies and money.

"If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us," Obama said Tuesday after briefings at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's a potential threat to global security if these countries break down," Obama said, speaking of the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. At least 2,400 people have died, with Liberia bearing the brunt.

Obama outlined a series of new steps by the U.S. to help contain the outbreak, which he said is getting worse. The steps include sending military personnel, training health care workers and erecting health care facilities in Liberia.

He described the task ahead as "daunting" but said what gives him hope is that "the world knows how to fight this disease."

Obama announced that Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, head of U.S. Army Africa, will head a military command center based in Liberia.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the 3,000 troops would not provide direct care to Ebola patients. A substantial number will be stationed at an intermediate base in Senegal, Earnest said, with others at locations in Liberia.

The U.S. effort will include medics and corpsmen for treatment and training, engineers to help erect the treatment facilities and specialists in logistics to assist in patient transportation.

The World Health Organization warned that the number of Ebola cases in West Africa could start doubling every three weeks and that the crisis could end up costing nearly $1 billion to contain. Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, said the global response was falling short. "The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing," Liu told a meeting Tuesday at the United Nations in Geneva.

Nearly 5,000 people have become ill from Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal since it was first recognized in March. WHO says it anticipates that figure could rise to more than 20,000.

With the addition of military personnel, administration officials said that the new U.S. initiatives aim to:

-Train as many as 500 health care workers a week.

-Erect 17 heath care facilities in Liberia of 100 beds each.

-Set up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate U.S. and international relief efforts.

-Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development will deliver to Liberia this week.

-Carry out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on handling exposed patients.

Meanwhile, a Senate panel held a hearing on the outbreak in Washington. Expected to testify were Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Kent Brantly, an American physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia but recovered after treatment with an experimental drug. Obama met with Brantly at the White House on Tuesday before departing for Atlanta.

At the hearing, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, declared, "This outbreak has spread in ways that are potentially catastrophic for the world."

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said urgent action was needed. "We must take the dangerous, deadly threat of the Ebola epidemic as seriously as we take ISIS," he said, referring to the extremist group in Syria and Iraq.

Separately, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "Frankly, I'm a bit surprised the administration hasn't acted more quickly to address what is a serious threat, not just to Africa but to others across the world." He predicted action "in the coming weeks" by the executive and legislative branches of government "to look at how do we best contain this very horrible disease."

Obama administration officials said money for the stepped-up effort to combat the disease would come from $500 million in overseas contingency operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, that the Pentagon already has asked Congress to redirect to carry out humanitarian efforts in Iraq and in West Africa. Officials said it would take about two weeks to get U.S. forces on the ground.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick patients, making doctors and nurses especially vulnerable to contracting the virus, which has no vaccine or approved treatment.

Obama's trip came a day after the United States also demanded a stepped-up international response to the outbreak. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called Monday for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, warning that the potential risk of the virus could "set the countries of West Africa back a generation."

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security


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