By Justin Sink - 08/05/14 08:19 AM EDT
The United States is “taking the necessary precautions to protect Americans” from the spread of Ebola, President Obama pledged in an op-ed Tuesday ahead of his appearance at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.
The president said the U.S. was “working urgently” with West African nations and global health organizations to treat and contain the outbreak.
Nearly 900 people have died from the deadly virus since March, and at least two American healthcare workers have contracted the disease while treating patients in Africa. On Monday, a Manhattan hospital said a third American was being tested to see if he had contracted the disease and returned to the U.S. undetected.
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden met with senior officials from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone about the outbreak on the margins of the leaders’ summit.
“The group identified national and regional priorities and held intensive discussions on the types of assistance needed to mount an effective response,” the State Department said in a statement.
Despite the Ebola crisis and ongoing struggles with HIV/AIDS, poverty and violence, Obama argued that the U.S. could not afford to “lose sight of the extraordinary promise of Africa.”
“We need to change the way we think about the continent, put aside old stereotypes and respond to Africans’ desire for a partnership of equals where Africans take the lead in their own development,” he said in the McClatchy op-ed.
Obama said his priorities included increasing U.S. exports to the continent, strengthening democratic institutions inside the country and deepening security partnerships to address threats like the Boko Haram terror group.
“Africa’s success will mean greater security and prosperity for all our nations for decades to come,” Obama said.