UNMEER vs. US National Guard?

In view of events in West Africa, I will depart from our usual subject – the bureaucratic disaster of ObamaCare – and instead focus on Ebola and how to fight it.  This past week has been a blur with the U.S. muddying the waters by letting its secondary domestic infections become “The Big Story” – upstaging the true tragedy in West Africa.

It’s not so much that I favor a travel ban, it’s just that I feel strongly that CDC must quickly control the message and stay on point, rather than playing Keystone Kops on the world stage and blaming nurses and false protocols for secondary U.S. cases.  If they can control new cases with their illusory temperature scans (that have about a 15% chance of finding infected patients) – fine; with Ouija boards –  fine; with a travel ban – fine.  One way or another, the U.S. needs to get off center stage so that the World can focus on West Africa and what is needed to be done there.  That is the only place that Ebola can be defeated.

This week, I heard a voice that seem to strike just the right tone between desperation and hope – Anthony Banbury, the head of the United Nations Mission for Emergency Ebola Response – UNMEER.  Unfortunately, I heard only a short video clip such as that used by our media.   As I read more about this little publicized organization, I discovered that it has been effectively in charge of coordinating the international Ebola effort in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone since September 19 of this year.  Also, that it is the very first UN emergency medical mission to ever be commissioned to combat a specific disease, which says something about the depth of this crisis.  UNMEER appears to have what our National Guard and Army do not have – a working relationship with the Governments involved – intimate knowledge of the situation on the ground – effective logistical support for the not-for-profits like Doctors Without Borders, which are doing a lot of the heavy lifting, and, most importantly, … a plan!

In his October 14, report to the Security Council, Banbury proposed a number of specific goals and targets to be reached by December 1, 2014 – adding 3000 hospital beds – adding 15 new labs each capable of analyzing bloodwork from 100 patients per day – increasing the payment to burial details, and increasing their numbers tenfold – maximizing utilization of resources using computers etc. etc.   You can see Mr. Banbury’s complete report to the Security Council here  –


Unlike our sorry bureaucracy, which never wants to set short term goals that it might fail to meet, UNMEER understands that if they don’t get a handle on Ebola in the short term, and inspire further support, the resulting spike in cases, and demoralization of the West African populace at the end of this year could truly cause this epidemic to spiral out of control.  I think both the specificity and the urgency of Mr. Banbury’s presentation are something that resonate with Americans and make us want to say “Let’s solve this problem!  We can do this!”  If our Administration had a brain in their heads, they would latch on to the work being done by UNMEER and start writing some checks, and promote any successes as their own.

It does seem that CDC is aware of UNMEER since they have had representatives at recent UNMEER meetings.  The same is true of the International Monetary Fund.  But everyone seems to be just sitting on their money and waiting.  For what?  An additional 4000 dead?

Unfortunately, in return for its money, I foresee the U.S. will want a new bureaucracy under its control that will duplicate much of what is already in place, and I foresee that if not carefully coordinated,  President Obama’s promised military operations could actually impede efforts by UN aid workers and the local governments.  I sincerely hope that the U.S. will not just insert itself haphazardly into the mix, but will work in the background to assist what is already being done.  The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is certainly the place where we ought to “Lead from behind,” at least until we prove we can stop tripping over our own feet.

The Skeptic




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