America's response to the Ebola virus epidemic ravaging Africa is too little, too late, says Dr. Kent Brantly, a U.S. doctor who survived the disease and who testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
on Labor, Health and Human Services on Tuesday.
"I came to understand firsthand what my own patients had suffered," Brantly told lawmakers at a hearing on the outbreak in west Africa, The Wall Street Journal reports.
He warned that there's no escaping Ebola's devastation.
"It is a fire straight from the pit of hell," he testified,The Hill reported.
"We cannot fool ourselves that the vast mode of the Atlantic Ocean will protect us from the flames of this fire. Instead, we must move quickly and immediately to deliver the promises that have been made."
Brantly was brutally critical of the United States'
early non-response to the epidemic, declaring that in the five weeks he treated Ebola patients before he himself fell ill, "our pleas continued to fall on deaf ears," the reports say.
Unfortunately, he said, no significant action was taken until this week;
the Obama administration has committed about $175 million so far to the fight, The Hill noted.
Brantly decried the global response as "still unacceptably out-of-step with the size and scope of the problem now before us," The Journal reports.
He told lawmakers it seemed the world took notice only when he and his U.S. colleague Nancy Writebol became infected. Both were treated and recovered at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Brantly explained that at the hospital in Monrovia where he worked before falling ill, Ebola patients, starting in June, increased "at an incredible rate," numbering 30 in a facility only able to treat 20 patients.
The Journal reported that the lab testing for Ebola was understaffed, and that treatment even for patients suffering from other conditions was delayed — including one diabetic woman who ultimately died after doctors waited 36 hours to see if she had the virus. She did not.
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