Ebola has reached the United States and there’s a collective media freakout. But ebola will not spread in the United States, so the media’s attention really ought to focus on what is truly frightening about ebola: donors are still not ponying up the resources required to contain the outbreak in West Africa.
Funding levels for the international response to ebola are pathetically low. On September 16th, the UN launched a $987 million appeal for resources to stop the outbreak. The appeal covered things like protective equipment, fuel to keep the lights on in the hospitals, pay incentives for health care workers, and pretty much everything else required to halt the outbreak. Two weeks later the international response has been…muted. To date only $254 million has been committed against that plan. That’s just about 25%.
In other words, ebola is spreading out of control yet donors are doing about one quarter of what needs to be done to beat back the outbreak. Until resources are committed to the fight against ebola in west Africa, we can expect more imported cases to the USA and the rest of the world. And, of course, we can expect the disease to spread exponentially in West Africa.