As 2015 gets underway, it may seem like Ebola fears are in the rearview mirror, but according U.S. Senator Chris Coons, D- Delaware, the disease could return to the forefront.
Coons visited Africa last month to get a first-hand look at the effort to stop the spread of Ebola. In September, President Obama deployed 2,400 troops to Monrovia, Liberia to help that African nation respond to Ebola.
In an interview on PBS Newshour Tuesday night, Coons said the U.S. needs to keep forces in Liberia until the disease has been stamped out.
“We shouldn’t leave Liberia in a significant way until we have gotten to zero, because I’m very concerned that this Ebola epidemic could just come roaring back if the international community that has made such a difference in this region withdraws too early,” said Coons.
Coons said the number of troops in Liberia can be reduced, but the time frame the remaining U.S. forces are there should be indefinite. The presence of those forces, Coons said, lifted spirits of Liberians who felt abandoned by the world community in their fight against Ebola.
“We need to now sustain that hope in a more practical and cost-effective way by using the great human resources of the Liberian nation and Guinea and Sierra Leone, and the remarkable resources of the missionaries and volunteers who are there to ensure that we make a lasting difference,” said Coons.
That lasting impact could go beyond the current Ebola crisis and strengthen both the public health and social infrastructure in West Africa.