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Published On: Thu, Oct 9th, 2014

U.S commits $350m to fighting Ebola in West Africa

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the United States government has committed more than $350 million toward fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and is ready to deploy up to 4,000 military personnel by late October.

Most of a Defense Department request to shift $1 billion in war funds to the Ebola effort is locked up in Congress over lawmakers’ demands for more information on the mission from the Obama administration.

Here is a rundown of U.S. monetary commitments so far and the status of future funds: Various agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Pentagon and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had committed to spend about $208 million through Oct. 3, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

This includes $2 million for personal protective equipment, $88 million to develop medical countermeasures; $10 million for community health workers; $20 million to expand laboratory capacity; $22 million for field hospitals; $1 million for security and $65 million for laboratory surveillance, logistics and relief commodities and disease detection activities.

Congress approved $88 million in a stop-gap government funding measure, including $58 million to accelerate production and development of antiviral drugs and vaccines and $30 million for CDC personnel, equipment and supplies.

USAID and the State Department have announced a $10 million grant to the African Union to train and equip more than 100 medical workers for West Africa. USAID has also announced plans for up to $75 million in additional Ebola funds.

The Defense Department has asked congressional committee chairmen and ranking members for permission to shift $1.06 billion from its current war operations budget to support the Ebola mission.

The Pentagon’s proposal includes building 17 Ebola treatment facilities with 100 beds each, training of up to 500 health care workers each week and a $22 million, 25-bed field hospital to care for sick health workers.

But thus far, the House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees and Defense Appropriations subcomittees have only released $50 million of this total.

To sign off on the rest, Republicans have demanded additional information about the use of the funds, shielding military personnel from Ebola exposure and preventing the mission from becoming an expensive, long-term commitment. Congressional aides have said they expect to receive a formal response to these questions later this week.

Appropriations committees in Congress are trying to get a handle on the future funding needs of a sprawling, multi-agency Ebola response effort. The information will help them craft a fiscal 2015 spending bill that needs approval by Dec. 11, when a temporary extension of government funding runs out.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, a Republican, and Representative Nita Lowey, the panel’s top Democrat, have asked the administration for a detailed, government-wide Ebola plan by Oct. 17. (Reuters)


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