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US To Work with UN on Ebola, PEPFAR Absence in Liberia & Guinea Explained

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 25 -- The Ebola epidemic is said to have “collapsed” health systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, showing how weak and under-funded they were even before this year's outbreak.

  After a Senior US State Department Official on September 25 said that the US' PEPFAR funding had strengthen health systems allowing prior Ebola outbreaks in East Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo to be rapidly contained, Inner City Press asked the official what the US and PEPFAR had been doing in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

  PEPFAR is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

  The US official said ruefully, “PEPFAR does not have resources in those three countries. They had very low HIV prevalence from the beginning and were not a significant investment country. Over the last several years we have have been investing $500,000 a year in Sierra Leone to support their TB laboratory diagnosis. But we've had very limited support of those countries.”

  And that may be one of the problems. Click here to view map.

  Looking forward, the UN says 4000 of its staff applied by a September 24 to be deployed to the new UNMEER Ebola response mission, to be headquartered in Accra, Ghana. Inner City Press asked a Senior State Department Official -- a different one -- how the US' 4000 people will interface with the UN mission. (Click here for Inner City Press' story on what this other US official said about South Sudan.)

  The US official replied, “we are working closely with UN, we have to coordinate. The UN will put its headquarters in Accra. USAID will have some people working closely with, embedded with them in Accra.”

  Now that US has in essence adopted Liberia, sending 4000 people to respond to Ebola, with the UK similar adopting its former colony Sierra Leone, and France its former colony Guinea, the question arises or remains how these countries were left so under-developed. Watch this site.


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