Power, who will also visit Sierra Leone and Liberia, said she had a
"very robust" discussion with Guinea's President Alpha Conde on
Sunday about the way forward and that Conde has "tremendous
impatience ... wholly appropriate to the cause."
Conde told Power of ambitious plans to increase the number of Ebola
Treatment Units (ETUs) across the country.
"But it's a real mystery as to where the healthcare workers are
going to come from to staff those ETUs," Power told Reuters.
"So he described his own recruitment drive within Guinea in order to
get medical students as they come out of their training to go right
into Ebola treatment as a kind of national service, also to bring
all the retired doctors and nurses back and conscripting them," she
The three West African countries are bearing the brunt of the worst
outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever on record, which the World Health
Organization (WHO) says has killed nearly 5,000 people. A small
number of cases have also been reported in Mali, Nigeria, Senegal,
Spain and the United States.
"We are not on track right now to bend the curve," Power told
Reuters. "I will take what I know and I learn and obviously provide
it to President Obama, who's got world leaders now on speed dial on
"Hopefully the more specific we can be in terms of what the
requirements are and what other countries could usefully do, the
more resources we can attract," she said.
The United Nations said last month almost $1 billion was needed to
fight Ebola for the next six months. According to the U.N. Financial
Tracking Service, nearly $500 million has been committed and $280
million in non-binding pledges made.
"As we have seen, along with Spain, it is not a virus that is going
to remain contained within these three affected countries if we
don't deal with it at its source," Power said.
Aid groups on the ground said more doctors, nurses and treatment
centers were needed. Ebola patients were being turned away due to a
lack of beds and were usually cared for at home, where they risked
infecting more people, according to aid workers.
Power also met with aid and other groups as well as leaders of the
Muslim and Catholic communities.
BED, MEDICAL STAFF SHORTAGES
According to the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), even if
existing international commitments are met by December, there could
be a shortage of over 6,000 beds across Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Nearly half of the beds currently planned in the three countries
will lack the medical staff needed to support them, a study by AGI,
former British prime minister Tony Blair's London-based development
AGI based its projections on the WHO's worst-case scenario, which
forecast 10,000 new cases per week in December.
[to top of second column]
"The international community badly misjudged the impact of the Ebola
epidemic in its first few months and is compounding that error by
failing to act quickly enough now," AGI Chief Executive Nick
He called on more countries to follow the examples of the United
States, Britain and Cuba, which have deployed military and medical
personnel to the region to bolster efforts to stop the epidemic at
Some Republican lawmakers have called for a travel ban on the
worst-affected countries after four cases of Ebola were diagnosed in
the United States. New York, New Jersey and Illinois have imposed
mandatory 21-day quarantines for health care workers coming from
West Africa, even if they are not sick.
Obama has resisted such a move on advice from public health
officials who say Ebola, which is spread through contact with bodily
fluids of an infected person, poses no major health threat to the
Power said there was a risk these new measures could deter aid
workers from traveling to West Africa to help.
"We're in very close consultations with the states, we understand
the legitimate fears," Power said. "We've got to find a way to
address that fear, but we can't do so in a manner that undermines
our ability to deal with the problem at its source."
"We have to find the right balance in order to continue to attract
health workers at the same time we try to address the fears of the
healthcare workers neighbors when they come home," she said.
Power said the benefits of seeing the Ebola response first hand
outweighed the risks of traveling to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra
Leone. She added that she would take all necessary precautions
during her visit and upon her return to the United States, including
checking her temperature "many times a day."
Power also plans to visit the headquarters of the United Nations
Ebola response mission in Ghana, which is coordinating efforts in
(Editing by Joe Bavier, Tom Heneghan and Jeffrey Benkoe)
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