The United States is providing up to $8 million to help stop the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a top U.S. health official said in Geneva.
Health authorities in the Central African country have reported around 50 suspected cases and 27 deaths from the disease. The outbreak was first reported in rural areas, but several cases have occurred in Mbandaka, a provincial capital with more than 1 million people.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the latest tranche of American assistance in a May 22 address to the World Health Assembly. He commended the Democratic Republic of the Congo “for responding to this outbreak with such vigor” and urged all World Health Organization members to help “ensure we defeat this outbreak.”
Most of the funds will come through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The United States also is sending a team of specialists to help out.
“The U.S. government is committed to global health security.”
~ State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert
Congolese medical teams have begun vaccinating health workers and contacts of Ebola victims with an experimental vaccine supplied by the American pharmaceutical company Merck.
The United States has invested $1 billion since 2014 in helping developing countries build up their capacities to prevent, detect and respond to epidemics. A commitment to stopping epidemics early is part of the White House’s National Security Strategy.
The 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in three West African nations, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, claimed 11,310 lives before it was controlled, as reported by WHO.