Liberian president praises Obama for Ebola effort

The president of Liberia on Wednesday thanked members of Congress for their help against Ebola, specifically touting the “leadership of the Obama administration” in curbing the outbreak.

“It was the U.S. administration that awakened the world to the scope and magnitude of the Ebola disease’s virulent spread in West Africa, that took the extraordinary step to deploy the U.S. military to help Liberia,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee via videoconference on Wednesday.

Sirleaf praised the American response as “significant and timely,” pushing back against widespread criticism from U.S. lawmakers and aid workers that the effort has been slow and uncoordinated.

With the U.S. help, she said spread of Ebola is now “manageable” in Liberia, though it is far from controlled.

Nearly 17,000 people have become infected with Ebola, nearly all within three countries in West Africa.

More than 7,000 cases have been reported in Liberia, which — until this month — had been the country worst-hit by the disease.

Sirleaf also praised Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who has been a controversial figure in the fight to contain Ebola domestically, as well as USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

Still, she said the region needed more help financially and logistically.

Congress is expected to approve $5.4 billion in funding for its Ebola response this week as part of the “cromnibus” spending bill.


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