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DOD to Send 25-bed Hospital to Liberia in Fight Against Ebola Virus

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The Defense Department will transport a 25-bed hospital to Liberia in western Africa to help in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus there, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

Equipping, and logistical and training details must be worked out before the hospital can be loaded onto an aircraft transport to deliver it to the stricken nation, Kirby told reporters during a DoD press conference.

DoD has about $30 million in program funding approved for its Ebola response, which includes delivery of the hospital and pay for diagnostic equipment, supplies and training, he said.

“We’ve also requested reprogramming $500 million in this fiscal year’s Overseas Contingency [Operations] fund for humanitarian assistance that would include West Africa,” he said.

In addition to the hospital, Kirby emphasized that “active discussions are going on across the whole United States government about the threat posed by this terrible disease and the urgency with which the international community needs to respond to it.”

He said he is convinced the U.S. government will continue its role to address the Ebola crisis, and that DoD likely has capabilities “that might prove helpful.”

In addition to the hospital, the department has had military physicians in West Africa treating patients with the Ebola virus and battling its rapid spread. “There has been a lot of effort applied,” by DoD, he noted.

“From a military perspective, whatever we offer to this effort [must] be the right capabilities,” Kirby emphasized, noting that the department has a comparatively limited capability in the fight against infectious diseases.

“Most of military medicine has been focused over the last 13 years -- and is designed to be focused -- on battlefield trauma and injuries,” he noted.

Yet DoD is good about rising to the call and doing everything it can, when and where it can, Kirby said.

“I can assure you we’re going to continue in the best way that we can. As a government and at the Pentagon, we’re very actively involved in this,” he said.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

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