Despite reports that African nations are overwhelmed by the deadly Ebola outbreak, President Obama on Wednesday expressed optimism that nations such as Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia eventually will get a handle on the worsening situation.
Speaking at a morning session of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, Mr. Obama said the outbreak — which has claimed more than 700 lives thus far — is just another challenge that Africa can overcome.
“On behalf of all of us here today, our thoughts and prayers for those who have been affected by the Ebola outbreak, especially those who have lost loved ones,” the president said. “The U.S. and our international partners will continue to do whatever we can do to help our African partners respond to this crisis and to stand with the people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In their histories they have overcome great challenges and they’re drawing on that same spirit of strength and resilience today.”
But it may take more than a strong spirit to deal with the virus. CNN reported Wednesday that health workers in Sierra Leone say the government there is in over its head.
“I think that the government and the ministry of health here in Sierra Leone is not able to deal with this outbreak. We need much more help from international organizations,” Anja Wolz, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, told CNN.
In addition to the rising death toll, major airlines such as British Airways have suspended all flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The State Department has warned Americans against traveling to any nations affected by Ebola.
Meanwhile, other African leaders have bristled this week at the notion their entire continent is overrun by the virus.
“It’s an unfair vision of Africa,” Senegal President Macky said Tuesday. “It is not an African disease.”
Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete echoed that sentiment.
“The whole of the African continent is being perceived as if everywhere, everybody is [suffering] from Ebola,” he said.