A Collaborative, Unified Ebola Response

We have all been following the news reports on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa since last summer. It is a crisis that has already claimed over 10,000 lives, and one that must be stopped at all costs.

In my capacity as Special Coordinator for Ebola for the State Department, I have worked with our senior leadership to lead the Ebola Coordination Unit, a team dedicated to mobilizing State Department resources towards an effective U.S. response. Through this unit, we work collaboratively with the rest of the U.S. government and other donors to carry out a unified response.  Our strategy has been predicated on four key goals:

  1. Controlling the epidemic at its source in West Africa;
  2. Mitigating second-order impacts, including blunting the economic, social, and political tolls in the region;
  3. Engaging and coordinating with a broader global audience; and
  4. Fortifying global health security infrastructure in the region and beyond.

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As the President has emphasized repeatedly, our government has applied a whole-of-government response to the epidemic, and is committed to supporting our African partners and protecting Americans. This directive has given me the opportunity to work with the very best of the U.S. government to plan our efforts. We are constantly communicating and strategizing on ways to move faster to outsmart the virus and halt this outbreak.  We have worked very hard to lay out a plan to provide the affected countries with the support they have requested to combat this disease.

Our incredible colleagues in the U.S. Embassies in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, and the U.S. Mission to the African Union have worked tirelessly to support the government and international organizations working on combatting the epidemic. The State Department has also provided lifesaving medical evacuation (medevac) services when needed. We also actively manage the coordination of our international allies to contribute experienced personnel, supplies and funding, to support the UN, and the new UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

To effectively end this crisis means each day we have to move closer to our goal: We have to get to, and stay at zero cases. It’s an enormous challenge, but one that I’m sure we can overcome…together.

About the author: Steven A. Browning serves as the Special Coordinator for Ebola Response.