Kerry sends out call to arms on the Ebola crisis

Story highlights

  • Kerry spoke at the State Department on Friday to a group of foreign ambassadors.
  • Kerry praised a handful of countries for their contributions to the effort, including Cuba.
  • Kerry said "Ebola has the potential to become a scourge like HIV or polio".
Using some of the most dramatic language yet by a U.S. official, Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called on world leaders to contribute far more to the international Ebola response.
Kerry warned that, absent a concerted effort by the international community, "Ebola has the potential to become a scourge like HIV or polio that we will end up fighting -- all of us -- for decades."
The secretary made these remarks to a room of foreign ambassadors at the State Department in Washington. He called on them to use their influence to bring stronger commitments to the Ebola fight, which has plagued Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia for weeks, and has spread as far as the United States and Europe.
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"There is no country that is exempt from being able to do something to be able to contribute to this effort and help make a difference," Kerry said. "And everything we do depends on how we coordinate our efforts as partners in how we contribute together."
Kerry praised a handful of countries for their contributions to the effort, including Cuba -- a historical foe of the U.S, that more often finds itself under criticism by the State Department.
"Cuba, a country of just 11 million people, has sent 165 health professionals," Kerry noted in his remarks, "and it plans to send nearly 300 more."
The United Nations has called on the international community to give $1 billion to the Ebola response effort over the next six months. So far, Kerry noted, only about a third of that need has been met.
"We live in a world of a lot of close calls, tough decisions on a daily basis -- difficult and contentious issues where you can have an honest disagreement about what the best course of action is, or about what the facts are, or the results of your decision may be," Kerry conceded, adding, "Ebola is not one of them."
So far, more than 4,000 people have died from the epidemic in West Africa. The World Health Organization estimates that there will be between 5,000 and 10,000 new Ebola cases per week there by the first week of December.