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Fighting Ebola: 5 Things You Need to Know About Emergency Funding to Combat the Disease

Today, the Administration asked Congress to help bolster America’s resources in the fight against Ebola by providing $6.18 billion toward our whole-of-government efforts.

The current Ebola epidemic plaguing West Africa is the deadliest Ebola outbreak in human history.

Since the first cases were reported in March, the U.S. has mounted a large-scale and comprehensive effort to protect the American people here at home while fighting the disease at its source.

Today, the Administration asked Congress to help bolster America’s resources in the fight against Ebola by providing $6.18 billion toward our whole-of-government efforts. The emergency funds will help ensure that we meet both immediate and long-term needs, and that there are resources available to meet the evolving nature of the epidemic.

Here's what you need to know about this request and our response to Ebola:

1. What exactly will the funding be used for?

The Administration will use these funds to:

  • Fortify domestic public health and health care systems
  • Contain and mitigate the epidemic in West Africa
  • Speed the development and testing of vaccines and therapeutics
  • Establishing the capacity of vulnerable countries to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks before they become epidemics that threaten the American people.

These activities are necessary to combat the spread of Ebola and reduce the potential for future outbreaks of infectious diseases that could have similarly devastating, costly, and destabilizing consequences.

2. Who is going to get these funds, and how will they use it?

Multiple federal agencies will be responsible for these funds to prevent, detect, and contain the Ebola virus at home and abroad.

For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services will receive $2.43 billion to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and more to fund activities that strengthen our preparedness and response capabilities, including:

  • Fortifying domestic health care systems by supporting more than 50 Ebola Treatment Centers and equipment and training at hospitals across the United States
  • Providing preparedness funding to state and local public health departments procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Strategic National Stockpile.
  • Increasing support for monitoring of travelers at U.S. airports
  • Conducting advanced clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of investigational vaccines and therapeutics
  • Establishing capacity in vulnerable countries to stand up emergency operations centers; testing patients and reporting data in real-time; providing safe and secure laboratory capacity; and developing a trained workforce to track and end outbreaks before they become epidemics. These are the same activities that are also necessary to combat the spread of Ebola.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will use $1.98 billion to scale up our foreign assistance and address humanitarian needs by:

  • Expanding medical and non-medical management of Ebola Treatment Units and community care centers
  • Providing PPE and supplies
  • Establishing regional logistics network needed to support the international crisis response
  • Increasing the number of safe burial teams
  • Addressing food insecurity and other second-order impacts in affected communities
  • Bolstering community education efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola
  • Enhancing the ability of local health care systems to report threats in real-time
  • Establishing needed capability for expert personnel and equipment to stop health emergencies before they become epidemics that threaten Americans.

The Departments of State and Defense will also receive funding to support our medical air transport/evacuation capacity at overseas posts, and to accelerate the development of cutting-edge vaccine technologies, respectively.

Take an in-depth look at the full list of activities that the emergency funding will support here.

3. Aren’t we conducting this kind of response already? Why do we need more funds?

The emergency funds are required to sustain our ongoing efforts to combat the spread of Ebola, which already includes the deployment of key medical workers and service members to affected countries. We have established a new hospital for infected health care workers. We are supporting Ebola Treatment Units and community care centers, community education campaigns and safe burials.

Here at home, we are supporting health care worker and health system preparedness, screening travelers from affected countries, assisting in the monitoring of at-risk individuals, and identifying and treating Ebola patients at specialized hospitals.

The emergency funding is necessary to sustain the Administration’s ongoing whole-of-government response to help end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and protect people here at home.

4. Why is this funding being called “emergency” funding?

The funding is needed immediately to strengthen and sustain our whole-of-government response to strengthen preparedness in the U.S. and to help end the Ebola epidemic at its source in West Africa, and to prevent disease outbreaks, detect them early, and swiftly respond before they become epidemics that threaten the American people. It’s in situations like this one, when activities surpass the current level of funding, that the request is deemed an emergency.

What’s more, a portion of this funding request will ensure that, should they be needed, additional resources are available to support domestic preparedness activities or expanded international efforts, depending on the evolution of the outbreak.

5. Are we the only country that’s funding an international response effort?

No. To effectively contain and eventually bring an end to this epidemic, it will take the commitment of the international community. Many countries are standing with us contributing resources to the fight on the front lines.

The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, China, Norway, and the European Commission, and others are providing critical funding and supplies. In some cases, these resources include civilian and military personnel, staffing for Ebola Treatment Units, laboratories, transportation of critical supplies and food, and support for air transport and medical evacuation.

China, Cuba, India, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, South Korea, Thailand, Ghana, Malaysia, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, and the African Union are all providing significant financial and in-kind support as well.

Because of our skill, our determination, and our passion, Americans are uniquely suited to lead this international response. The emergency funding will ensure that we can fulfill our leadership role and also ensure that we are taking important steps to strengthen preparedness here in the U.S.

While introducing President Obama at a White House event last week, Dr. Kent Brantly -- a U.S. doctor who contracted Ebola in Liberia and was later cured of the disease -- said that “At this time, perhaps more than any other, we feel the impact of our position as citizens of not only the United States of America but as citizens of the world.”