The Pentagon is set to build a facility to treat health workers in Liberia. Eighty Liberian health workers have already died from the disease. But the Pentagonâ€™s new facility isnâ€™t for them. Itâ€™s for foreign health workers only.
It may seem strange and archaic to reserve a healthcare facility for foreigners only â€“ like labelling a bench Â â€œwhites onlyâ€ â€“ but this is effectively what the Pentagon has done, according to Buzzfeed News.
â€œThe goal is to provide assurance for health workers,â€ said Nancy Lindborg, the assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance of US Agency for International Development in a call to journalists. Foreign ones at least.
On Monday, Lindborg told journalists that the facility would cater exclusively for foreign health workers. A press officer confirmed the story toÂ BuzzfeedÂ on Tuesday.
$22 million. The life of a Liberian doctor is worth as much as the life of an American one. Except to the USG. http://t.co/Y4k2A0QZx2
â€” Laura Seay (@texasinafrica) September 10, 2014
Liberia is currently at the frontline of the Ebola battle, which has already killed 2 228 people. Half of these deaths have come in the past three works, and not even health workers are safe from the disease. Thatâ€™s where the Pentagonâ€™s $22-million facility comes in.
There are 152 Liberian health workers currently infected with Ebola. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that conventional control methods, such as protective suits, are not effective in Liberia. The disease has been nearly impossible to contain, and international aid organisations say that the global community hasÂ failed in its response to the outbreak.
Health experts are already questioning the infrastructure of the Pentagonâ€™s proposed facility, which is said to contain only 25 beds.
Dr Ian Norton, a coordinator of the foreign medical teams that enter Liberia, toldÂ BuzzfeedÂ that field hospitals are â€œvery much surgery oriented; there are a lot of theaters and high intensive careâ€.
â€œWhen Norton was informed byÂ BuzzFeed NewsÂ about the $22-million, 25-bed facility, he laughed,â€ writesÂ BuzzfeedÂ journalist, Jina Moore.
While the Pentagon is set to spend $22-million on this single facility, international health aid organisation, MooreÂ says, MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res (MSF) has projected spending $39-million to combat the disease in its entirety this year.
â€œWe donâ€™t need 25 beds. We need 1,000 beds, yesterday,â€ Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF-USA, toldÂ Buzzfeed. â€œIf this is the only offer that is going to be practically implemented on the ground, itâ€™s paltry in the face of all the needs.â€
The international community has been criticisedÂ for its lack of response to the disease, leaving experts on the front lines askingÂ just how important African lives are to the world at large.Â The Pentagonâ€™s latest move is bound to add to the outrage. Meanwhile West Africans continue to die in numbers.
Read the full story on Buzzfeed.
– Image via MSF/Â Sylvain Cherkaoui