16 September, 2014
United Nations officials are calling for $1 billion to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. Officials say they need the money to keep its spread within "tens of thousands of cases."
The World Health Organization announced on Tuesday that Ebola has killed more than 2,500 people since the first case was reported earlier this year. That represents half of the more than 5,000 people infected with the disease.
The WHO's Assistant Director general, Bruce Aylward, says the number of dead has risen 100 percent in just one month. He spoke to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland. In his words, "quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, this health crisis we're facing is unparalleled in modern times. We don't know where the numbers are going on this."
Mr. Aylward said the UN agency had earlier predicted that the number of cases could reach 20,000. That no longer seemed a lot, he added.
The WHO official said the situation is very different from the Ebola ‘road map' he presented just two weeks ago.
"As we adjust our plans right now, we are adjusting to assure we have many more beds, more treatment capacity on the ground in these countries. But it will be sometime before, I think, anyone can predict with any sort of sense of certainty, the kind of numbers where we are going to land."
The Ebola virus has spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. Valerie Amos is the UN's Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs. She notes that Liberia and Sierra Leone have experienced long periods of civil conflict, while Guinea has gone through years of unrest.
"And that is why we must act now, if we want to avoid greater humanitarian consequences in the future. First, we must prevent the compete collapse of health systems in the affected countries. Already, it is estimated that more people have died from secondary aspects. For example, malaria, tuberculosis or in childbirth or from chronic illnesses than have died from Ebola."
Also on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he is expanding the federal government's effort to fight the Ebola crisis. The president announced plans to deploy 3,000 U.S. troops to West Africa. He made the announcement during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
The U.S. military will build 17 health care centers with 100 beds in each. The centers will be used to identify and treat more Ebola victims. The United States will also establish a center to train an average of 500 health care workers a week.
*This story was based on information from VOA's News Division and reporter Lisa Schlein in Geneva. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in the News
billion – n. one thousand million ("1,000,000,000").
case (medical) – n. an incident of disease
crisis – n. an extremely important time when something may become much better or worse; a dangerous situation
spread – v. to become longer or wider; to make or become widely known