Ebola Aid

The U.S. government is preparing to send more healthcare workers to West Africa to fight the Ebola epidemic as international aid workers leave the region due to exhaustion or illness.

The State Department is also setting up a robust system for evacuating aid workers who become sick while working on the ground.

Both efforts were described in a contracting document, first reported by Bloomberg News, that points to the enormous logistical challenge of moving patients with Ebola back to the United States.

“Even a routine medical evacuation is challenged by unwillingness on the part of air ambulance vendors and aircraft charter services to fly to the region,” stated the document, which was posted Wednesday. The evacuations will require “a very unique combination of aircraft specifications and capacity, human resources, highly technical equipment, and very specific certifications not easy [sic] found in the industry.”

The Ebola outbreak has reached crisis proportions, according to global health officials. Nearly 2,300 were dead from the virus as of this week and the pace of new fatalities is increasing. U.S. agencies are expected to receive an additional $88 million to address Ebola in Congress’s next government funding bill.

More spending will also arrive from USAID, which pledged $10 million on Tuesday, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which pledged $50 million on Wednesday.

The United Nations expects the response to cost at least $600 million.

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