Obama to ask US Congress for $111 million to fund anti-Ebola effort in West Africa

Guinea's Red Cross health workers prepare to carry the body of a victim of Ebola in Conakry on Sept 14, 2014. US President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress to approve his request for US$88 million (S$111 million) to fund a major Ebola offensiv
Guinea's Red Cross health workers prepare to carry the body of a victim of Ebola in Conakry on Sept 14, 2014. US President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress to approve his request for US$88 million (S$111 million) to fund a major Ebola offensive in West Africa that would include greater military involvement, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress to approve his request for US$88 million (S$111 million) to fund a major Ebola offensive in West Africa that would include greater military involvement, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Mr Obama is due to outline his plan on Tuesday during a visit to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

The initiative could include sending additional portable hospitals, doctors and health care experts, as well as providing medical supplies and training local health workers, the Journal cited people familiar with the matter as saying.

It is expected to have four components: controlling the outbreak where it emerged in West Africa; increasing the competence of the region's public health system, especially in hard-hit Liberia; building local capacity through enhanced health care provider training; and increasing support from international organisations such as the United Nations and World Health Organization.

"There's a lot that we've been putting toward this, but it is not sufficient," Mr Obama's counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco told the newspaper.

"So the president has directed a more scaled-up response and that's what you're going to hear more about on Tuesday."

The US military could help direct supplies, set up tent hospitals and deploy medical personnel needed around the world to isolate and treat those sickened with the disease in order to stop it from spreading and improve their chances of recovery.

"We think these measures, this enhanced response, will help us bring this under control," an administration official told the newspaper.

"The military has unique capabilities in terms of logistical capacities, in terms of manpower, in terms of operating in austere environments."

The Journal said Mr Obama would seek commitments of funds, material and health workers during a world leaders summit at the United Nations next week to build a stronger international response.

The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa has killed more than 2,400 people since it erupted earlier this year, according to the World Health Organization.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are the hardest-hit countries.

The World Food Programme says it has stepped up its assistance to the three countries grappling with the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola.