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West Africa nowhere near end of Ebola crisis: Obama

IANS 19 Nov 2014, 7:00:42 AM IST

Washington:  US President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that West Africa was still "nowhere near out of the woods" in its fight against Ebola.

Obama spoke Tuesday at the White House while meeting with his national security and public health teams on Ebola, Xinhua reported.

"As long as the outbreak continues to rage in the three countries in West Africa -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- this is still going to be a danger -- not just for America, but for the entire world," he said.

The US president said anti-Ebola efforts in parts of Liberia are "really paying dividends" but Sierra Leone is still "seeing an increase of cases".

In Guinea, "some of the international coordination still needs to improve" although the numbers there are lower than in Sierra Leone or Liberia, while Mali experienced an reemergence of the deadly disease this month, he said.

"It underscores how important it is to continue to push forward until we stamp out this disease entirely in that region," the US president said.

"Until we do, there are threats of additional outbreaks, and given the nature of international travel, it means that everybody has some measure of risk."

Obama noted the attention on the crisis has ebbed in the US over the last several weeks, but "the challenges remain".

He mentioned the death of Martin Salia, a Sierra Leone citizen and US resident, saying "when Ebola is promptly diagnosed and treated, then we have a great chance of curing it".

Salia got sick Nov 6 while treating patients in his native Sierra Leone, and when he arrived Saturday at the Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha for treatment, he was already in critical condition. He died early Monday "as a result of the advanced symptoms of the disease," said the Omaha hospital.

The US president also urged the Congress to approve his $6.18 billion dollar emergency funding request, saying it will help strengthen the country's domestic health systems as well as support ongoing efforts in West Africa.