- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The U.S. government on Wednesday provided $38 billion to the Ebola fight in the Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing its total contribution through the Agency for International Development to nearly $140 billion.

USAID said a $15 billion portion will be given to the World Health Organization, which is coordinating the global effort.

The money will support on-the-ground efforts to track the disease and prevent new infections, train health workers and promote safe burials, so the disease does not spread from deceased patients to community members.

Beyond the DRC, the money will help Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda prepare for possible cases.

The announced funding is in addition to contributions from other segments of the U.S. government and the private sector, according to USAID.

Ebola is a serious often-fatal disease that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads from human to human through the bodily fluids of people who exhibit symptoms.

The outbreak in northeast DRC, which began in August, has resulted in nearly 2,600 cases and more than 1,700 deaths, making it the second-worse on record after the massive West African outbreak in 2013-2016.

WHO recently declared the outbreak to be a global emergency, elevating the DRC’s plight and opening the door to more global assistance.

Also Wednesday, the World Bank said it is mobilizing $300 million in grants and credits to assist the Ebola effort.

Responders have more tools than ever to combat the disease, including a trial vaccine and therapeutic drugs.

However, they’ve been held back by sectarian violence in the North Kivu region and community distrust of outsiders.

“Continuing insecurity and difficulty in earning community trust are major hurdles,” USAID said in a written statement. “A robust, unified response by the government of the DRC, the United Nations, other neighboring countries, the United States and the international community in partnership with local communities is critical to stopping the spread of the disease.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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