The CDC director made a case before Congress for $6.2 billion
President Barack Obama has said funding will prevent spread of the virus
The federal budget must be approved by Dec. 11
As Ebola fades from the headlines, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other top federal health officials made their case for a multi-billion dollar emergency fund to fight the virus in a congressional hearing Tuesday.
CDC director Thomas Frieden defended President Barack Obama’s $6.2 billion proposal to combat Ebola, pointing out that the CDC is working on “borrowed dollars.”
“The only way to protect us in the U.S. is to stop it at the source, and to build systems both in Africa and the U.S. that will find, stop and prevent Ebola,” said Frieden, likening the spread of Ebola virus to a wild fire.
If secured, the funding will be spent in part on increased foreign aid to halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Another portion of the money could build new safeguards to help American hospitals respond swiftly to potential future outbreaks.
Currently, not all American medical centers are equipped to treat Ebola. With more funding, officials, say, hospital training can be expanded beyond the four medical centers where patients are funneled.
Obama made his pitch for increased funding just before a meeting with top health officials earlier Tuesday.
In his remarks, the President admitted that media attention over the crisis has ebbed in recent weeks as the number of American Ebola patients has decreased – but insisted that future risks can be minimized if Congress acts now.
“We are nowhere near out of the woods yet in West Africa,” Obama said, noting the increasing number of Ebola contractions in Sierra Leone. “The more we can catch these things early where they begin, the less risks we have over the long term.”
The second death from Ebola in the U.S. occurred this week: Martin Salia, a doctor who contracted the disease when treating patients in Sierra Leone, died Monday in Nebraska.
For additional funding to be secured, Congress will need to pass a new budget by Dec. 11 before the GOP Senate majority is sworn in – or risk a government shutdown.