Obama on Ebola: Without Help, Families Are “Waiting to Die” (Video)

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September 16, 2014

Saying that whole families are “waiting to die,” President Obama unveiled a U.S. response Tuesday to the Ebola epidemic that has claimed more than 2,400 African lives — a death toll projected to rise exponentially in the coming weeks.

Last week, in Ebola Outbreak, FRONTLINE reported on the intense difficulty of fighting the epidemic, which quickly infects entire families and communities through contact with bodily fluids.

Watch FRONTLINE’s Report From the Epicenter of the Ebola Epidemic

Obama said the chances of a U.S. outbreak were extremely low, citing new measures to identify infected travelers and to train doctors and nurses. But the situation is much worse in the hard-hit West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“People are literally dying in the streets,” Obama said at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people affected, with profound economic, political and security implications for all of us.”

Administration officials told The New York Times on Tuesday that the U.S. will send up to 3,000 troops to West Africa to help construct treatment centers, train health care workers and otherwise battle the disease.

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“The scenes that we’re witnessing in West Africa today are absolutely gut-wrenching,” the president said, describing one family struck by the disease and unable to get help.

“These men and women and children are just sitting,” Obama continued. “Waiting to die. Right now. And it doesn’t have to be this way. The reality is this epidemic is gonna get worse before it gets better, but right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives. Right now, the world has the responsibility to act.”

You can watch Obama’s speech below.

And watch FRONTLINE’s latest videos on Ebola:


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