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U.S. Must Prepare For Long-Term Response To Ebola In DRC, CDC Director Says; Agency Ready To Send More Personnel

Homeland Preparedness News: U.S., global partners struggle to contain Ebola outbreak in Congo, federal officials say
“The United States is struggling to support the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other partners in fighting what has become the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak, federal public health officials on Thursday told members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. The United States currently is not meeting its target to diffuse the outbreak early…” (Riley, 3/15).

New York Times: Ebola Epidemic in Congo Could Last Another Year, CDC Director Warns
“The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not under control and could continue for another year, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview on Friday. ‘Let’s not underestimate this outbreak,’ he said. His outlook was less optimistic than that of the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said at a news conference on Thursday that his goal was to end the outbreak in six months…” (Grady, 3/16).

NPR: U.S. Government Beefs Up Presence Near Congo’s Ebola Epicenter
“…Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC director, tells NPR that he’ll be assigning about a dozen health experts to work in the DRC for a year and positioning at least some of them much closer to the epicenter than earlier teams. … [The] State Department [has] restricted the CDC’s Ebola experts to Congo’s capital, Kinshasa — on the west side of the country, nearly 2,000 miles from the outbreak zone on the eastern side. … Redfield, fresh off a fact-finding visit to the outbreak zone last week, told NPR there’s a limit to what CDC experts can accomplish when they are so physically removed from the epicenter…” (Aizenman, 3/15).

Roll Call: Ebola outbreak response slowed by security fears, distrust
“…To be sure, even if the security situation has limited the CDC’s ability to respond, the U.S. government has been able to contribute in other ways. An experimental Ebola vaccine, which grew from a partnership between the National Institutes of Health and the Liberian government during the 2014 outbreak, is being used in a vaccination campaign. Experimental Ebola treatment drugs are also being tested in controlled trials in the DRC, which are a partnership between that country’s health research agency and the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the institute’s leader, Anthony Fauci, told the subcommittee…” (Siddons, 3/15).

STAT: CDC’s Redfield: It could take another year to control Ebola in DRC
“… ‘I would love to see this outbreak end in six months, like my friend [WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus] continues to hope for. But I think the reality, the practical reality, is this is going to be a longer road. And we need to start planning for it,’ [Redfield] said. That could prove challenging from a funding point of view. The WHO and other United Nations agencies involved in the outbreak are already struggling to raise the money needed to finance the response through July of this year. Agencies and nongovernmental organizations working to stop the virus have estimated their efforts will cost $148 million — but have only been able to raise about 60 percent of that amount, Tedros said…” (Branswell, 3/15).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak and response is available from CIDRAP News, Health Policy Watch, Inside Philanthropy, and UPI.