Cuba pledges 165 healthcare workers to combat Ebola outbreak

An overtaxed international response to the Ebola outbreak will receive some much needed help.

Cuba has agreed to send 165 healthcare workers to the region, the largest detachment of foreign doctors and nurses committed thus far. They are expected to arrive in October and will head to Sierra Leone, one of the countries hit hardest by the disease.

The news comes as the World Health Organization, again, called on the international community today for more assistance to fight the deadly epidemic spreading across West Africa. The latest death toll has climbed to more than 2,400, with a total of 4,784 infected.

In Geneva, WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan said they are simply overwhelmed.

“The number of new patients is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them,” she said. “We need to surge at least three to four times to catch up with the outbreaks.”

Chan said while money and equipment is coming in, another 500 to 600 foreign experts and at least 1,000 local health workers are needed on the ground, if there is hope for curbing the spread of the disease.

Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the NewsHour after a tour of affected West African countries that the epidemic is far worse than expected.

Aid workers have been at a particularly high risk for contracting the disease, which can spread through bodily fluids. Already some 300 healthcare workers have contracted the disease, nearly half of whom have died.