SIM USA President Bruce Johnson has praised President Barack Obama's recent announcement to send over 3,000 medical personnel to West Africa to help in the fight against the Ebola outbreak. The Christian missionary group, which saw one of its workers come down with Ebola while treating patients, said help from the U.S. is greatly needed and welcomed.
"The multifaceted response to the Ebola crisis announced today by President Obama is what we have been hoping for and what is needed in Liberia and West Africa," Johnson said in a press release. "Three things are vital right now: more beds and equipment, more trained medical professionals, and more training of Liberians and West Africans. This plan addresses these desperate needs."
Obama announced on Tuesday that he is ordering members of the U.S. Armed Forces to go to Liberia, which has been hit hardest by the outbreak. Over 2,400 people have died from the outbreak, with Guinea and Sierra Leone being two other countries seriously infected.
During a later speech from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention center in Atlanta, Obama reassured the American people that experts agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is "extremely low." Nevertheless, he said that the situation in West Africa is critical, and the public health system in the affected countries is nearing collapse.
"Now, here's the hard truth: In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before. It's spiraling out of control. It is getting worse. It's spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands," the president said.
"And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us. So this is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security, it's a potential threat to global security if these countries break down, if their economies break down, if people panic. That has profound effects on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease."
The U.S. also announced that it will provide over 400,000 Liberian families with Ebola prevention kits, including disinfectant and advice. The U.S. government has already spent $100 million in the battle against Ebola, while the Agency for International Development has pledged another $75 million for treatment units in the affected countries.
A number of relief organizations have been helping out at treatment centers in West Africa, including Christian-based nonprofits, such as SIM USA and Samaritan's Purse. Both organizations saw members of their medical staff come down with the virus while treating patients, namely Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who were successfully treated in the U.S. and were subsequently discharged from the hospital.
Johnson said in the press release: "SIM has been one of just a handful of NGOs trying to provide these three essential needs. But right now, Ebola has the upper hand. We are praying that having the U.S. and, we hope, other nations and health organizations engage in this way will save lives and stop the escalation of this deadly disease."