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UN Security Council to meet on Ebola as Obama gives details on outbreak tomorrow

SEPTEMBER, 16, 2014

A United Nations diplomat says the U.S. is calling an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity yesterday ahead of an official announcement, said U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, who chairs the Security Council this month, has scheduled the meeting on Thursday.

The diplomat said it would be only the second time the council, which deals with threats to international peace and security, deals with a public health issue.

The late former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, organized a council meeting in January 2000 on the AIDS pandemic, which was addressed by then vice-president Al Gore.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to detail tomorrow a plan to boost his country’s involvement in mitigating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The plan would involve a greater involvement of the U.S. military in tackling the worst recorded outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the proposal.

The outbreak has now killed upwards of 2,400 people, mostly in Liberia, neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone as poorly resourced West African healthcare systems have been overrun.

The U.S. government has already committed around $100 million to tackle the outbreak by providing protective equipment for healthcare workers, food, water, medical and hygiene equipment.

Obama could ask Congress for an additional $88 million to fund his proposal, the WSJ reported. Plan details are expected during Obama’s visit Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The move would come just days after Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appealed to Obama for urgent aid, saying that without it her country would lose the fight against the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the epidemic is spreading exponentially in Liberia, where more than half of the deaths have been recorded.

The U.S. military said recently it would build a 25-bed field hospital in Liberia to care for infected health workers but it would hand it to Liberians to run.

On Friday, the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac said Washington would train security forces in isolation operations, after a boy was shot dead last month when Liberian soldiers opened fire on a crowd protesting at a quarantine in a Monrovia neighbourhood.

Malaysia will send more than 20 million medical rubber gloves to five African nations battling the deadly Ebola virus, addressing a crucial shortage faced by overwhelmed health workers, the country’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced yesterday.

The Southeast Asian nation is a leading manufacturer of rubber gloves, producing about 60 percent of the world’s supply of latex medical gloves. Health authorities say that a shortage of rubber gloves in affected African nations has led to more deaths and raised risks that the virus will spread among doctors and nurses.

The outbreak has now killed upwards of 2,400 people, mostly in Liberia, neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone as poorly resourced West African healthcare systems have been overrun.

“Malaysia can make a unique and vital contribution to the fight against Ebola because we are one of the biggest manufacturers of rubber gloves,” a Malaysian government spokesperson said in a statement.

“We hope this contribution will prevent the spread of Ebola and save lives.”

Among the companies supplying the shipment are Sime Darby , Top Glove Corp Bhd, Kuala Lumpur Kepong, and IOI Corp., the Prime Minister’s office said. Top Glove alone has a production capacity of 42 billion gloves a year and exports to 200 countries.

Shares in the big rubber glove companies have rallied in recent weeks as fears grow that the virus could spread.

The Malaysian government did not say whether it or the companies were footing the bill for the shipment.

Malaysia will send 11 containers, each holding 1.9 million gloves, the statement said. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will each receive three containers, while Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will each receive one container.

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