- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Thursday the sluggish response to Ebola and the lack of a vaccine is due to poor coordination and lax attention to the virus, not money issues.

“I don’t think you could really blame this on budget cuts,” he told CNN.

Mr. Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor who served in the Bush administration from 2001 and 2005, said the government poured $4 billion into infrastructure for local hospitals and state health departments during his tenure.

He said that while funding to fight infectious diseases has not markedly increased in recent years but it has maintained a level between $4.4 billion and $4.8 billion.

“I think it’s a lack of communication and coordination,” he said.

He said that when he was in charge, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a direct line of communication with the World Health Organization during the SARS outbreak in Asia.

A clear channel of command is key, he said, and the CDC should have dispatched a rapid-response team to the hospital in Dallas when a Liberian national tested positive for Ebola last month.

“They should have done that, and I think they’ve acknowledged that,” he told CNN.

Still, the former secretary said he is not interested in the blame game.

“You can always point fingers. … We have to learn from our mistakes,” he said.

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