Obama authorises reservists for Ebola fight in W Africa

2014-10-17 11:48
(File: AFP)

(File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - President Barack Obama on Thursday authorised the Pentagon to send reservists to take part in a US mission to combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Obama said reservists could be called up to active duty for humanitarian aid operations related to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, according to an executive order released by the White House.

The US military has said it plans a force of 3 200 troops in Liberia and Senegal to provide logistical and engineering support in the international fight against the deadly virus, but said it has approval to expand the mission to nearly 4 000 if needed.

There are now more than 500 active duty troops in Liberia and Senegal for the mission.

The reservists - who would be called up due to their particular technical expertise - would be part of that 4 000-strong force, a military official said.

More significant contribution

In January 2010, Obama ordered the deployment of reservists to Haiti to take part in humanitarian aid work in the wake of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 250 000 people.

At the height of that operation, more than 20 000 US soldiers were in the Caribbean country.

On Wednesday, Obama once again urged the international community to do more to combat the outbreak of the virus, which has killed nearly 4 500 people, almost all of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In a videoconference with his British, French, German and Italian counterparts, he called on them to "make a more significant" contribution to the fight.

The Pentagon has said no US troops will have contact with patients infected with the virus, but a small number of medical specialists are testing blood samples at several mobile testing labs.

Doctors head to Africa

Apart from American troops in Liberia and Senegal, dozens of US government doctors and nurses are due to arrive as soon as next week to run a field hospital for local health workers who contract the virus, officials said.

The 65-member team will come from the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The medical professionals wear naval or Coast Guard uniforms and are often called on by the federal government in emergencies.

The US medical team "will actually be involved in the care and feeding of health care workers who have been inflicted with the Ebola virus", said Major General Darryl Williams, who leads the US military mission in Liberia.

The doctors and nurses will operate a 25-bed hospital recently constructed by American military engineers, Williams told reporters in a teleconference from Monrovia.

If a US military member contracts the virus, strict protocols would be followed including stabilizing the patient and placing the soldier under quarantine, he said. But the general did not know if a particular US military hospital had been designated to receive potential patients.

Williams, who is due to hand over to a new commander within this month, said heavy rains and Liberia's limited infrastructure presented the biggest difficulties for the assistance effort.

"I wouldn't say we underestimated, but I think we didn't realize how wet it would be here, and that's become somewhat of a challenge," the general said.

But he and other officials said the rainy season was almost over and the change in weather would speed up logistical support.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  ebola  |  health  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.