U.N., U.S. Ask for More Resources to Fight Ebola

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President Barack Obama speaks about the U.S. response to Ebola from the South Lawn of the White House on October 28, 2014. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Barack Obama requested more than $6 billion in emergency funding from Congress Wednesday in order to expand the U.S. response to the Ebola virus in West Africa and at home.

Obama is asking Congress to approve $4.64 billion for immediate response to the crisis and $1.54 billion for a contingency fund to help with future efforts. The immediate response would go toward containing the disease and speeding up the funding and development of vaccines.

"Without these additional resources, agencies will be unable to help control the epidemic, mitigate economic, social and political impacts of the crisis, ensure adequate domestic preparedness, develop safe and effective treatments and vaccines or expedite global health security capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to outbreaks before they become epidemics," the White House said in a statement.

On Thursday, Tony Banbury, the head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) told the BBC the mission doesn't yet have enough resources to defeat Ebola and more help is needed from the international community.

"There are still people, villages, towns [and] areas that [are] not getting any type of help right now, and we definitely don't have the response capability on the ground now from the international community," Banbury told the BBC.

Despite the need for more resources, the mission says it is hopeful that its target of 70 percent bed space for new Ebola cases and 70 percent safe burials by December can be achieved, Banbury said.

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has infected more than 13,000 and killed close to 5,000 according to the World Health Organization.

If approved, the $6.18 billion asked for by Obama will be divided among the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will receive $1.83 billion; the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Department of Defense and the Department of State. All four agencies are currently working on the ground in West Africa in an operation led by USAID.

The funding will also be used for Ebola response in the U.S., including expanding on the current system in place that screens travelers entering the U.S. from Ebola-hit nations and identification of outbreaks as they occur.

The U.S. had already pledged $400 million to fight Ebola as of October 24, according to the budget office. Wednesday's request is the first made by Obama in the wake of the midterm elections that saw Republicans gain a majority in the Senate.

Obama has previously called on other countries to devote more resources to battling the outbreak. This week, World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said countries in Asia that could help were not contributing enough and called on the region to send trained health professional teams to West Africa, Reuters reports.

On Thursday, philanthropist Paul Allen launched a new series of grants as part of his $100 million pledge to address the disease. The grants will provide millions more in funding for Ebola care and treatment, as well as the burgeoning humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the epidemic. The new sums include $1.9 million for Action Against Hunger to provide food to isolated patients, $1.35 million to AmeriCares for additional medical supplies and $1 million to Direct Relief to help continue delivering supplies.

U.N., U.S. Ask for More Resources to Fight Ebola | U.S.