This article is a joint publication of TheNation.com and Foreign Policy In Focus.
Six months into West Africa’s Ebola crisis, the international community is finally heading calls for substantial intervention in the region.
On September 16, President Obama announced a multimillion-dollar US response to the spreading contagion. The crisis, which began this past March, has killed over 2,600 people, an alarming figure that experts say will rise quickly if the disease is not contained. Obama’s announcement comes on the heels of growing international impatience with what critics have called the US government’s “infuriatingly” slow response to the outbreak.
Assistance efforts have already stoked controversy, with a noticeable privilege of care being afforded to foreign healthcare workers over Africans.
After two infected American missionaries were administered Zmapp, a life-saving experimental drug, controversy exploded when reports emerged that Doctors Without Borders had previously decided not to administer it to the Sierra Leonean doctor Sheik Umar Khan, who succumbed to Ebola after helping to lead the country’s fight against the disease. The World Health Organization similarly refused to evacuate the prominent Sierra Leonean doctor Olivet Buck, who later died of Ebola as well. The Pentagon provoked its own controversy when it announced plans to deploy a $22 million, twenty-five-bed US military field hospital—reportedly for foreign health workers only.