Congressman Jack Kingston: Obama Should Appoint an Ebola Czar


Congressman Jack Kingston: Obama Should Appoint an Ebola Czar

Your Washington – Ga 1 – Desk

From Congressman Jack Kingston 

Jack KIngston (2)

Obama Should Appoint an Ebola Czar

The global response – and more recently America’s response – to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been characterized by a lack of leadership and organization.

Now, with the first confirmed transmission of the virus on U.S. soil, we cannot afford to continue this slow and ineffective approach.  Our response both at home and abroad needs a clear, “buck stops here” leader.  We need a twenty-first century George Marshall with a twenty-first century Marshall Plan.

America’s efforts to combat Ebola have, to date, resembled the pre-9/11 approach to law enforcement: a multitude of agencies with a multitude of reporting structures and little coordination or communication.

U.S. Africa Command (Africom) is taking the lead on building logistical and transportation centers, training facilities, and treatment centers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing the medical expertise the military lacks, caring for aid workers who have fallen sick, treating patients and providing support from its headquarters in Atlanta.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing literally tons of medical supplies and emergency equipment including community protection kits, home care kits, and training.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) are working to fast track an investigational Ebola vaccine.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) this week launched Ebola screening for passengers from West African countries in New York and will soon expand them to some of the countries busiest airports.

The alphabet soup of agencies responding to this crisis has a tangled and confusing reporting structure.  Africom reports to the Department of Defense while CDC, NIH, and BARDA report to the Department of Health and Human Services.  Meanwhile, USAID is under the jurisdiction of the State Department and CPB reports to Department of Homeland Security.

While America’s response has many of the right ingredients, it lacks a singular leader to outline strategy, marshal resources, and track the effectiveness of the response.  Then there’s the rest of the world.

Then there’s the rest of the world.  The global response, led in large part by the World Health Organization, has been abysmal.  It is months behind where it should be at this point.  At the heart of the outbreak – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – are countries whose own public health systems have been broken by this virus.

Allowing this disorganized, slow, and ineffective response puts us at risk of an even larger global health crisis.

What if someone with Ebola traveled to South America or Asia instead of the United States or Europe?  We could have outbreaks tearing through cities like Sao Paulo, Caracas, Karachi, or Bangkok.

Ebola is a deadly and elusive foe that must be fought as such.  I call on the President to name an effective leader to implement a coherent strategy with clear metrics for victory.

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