Mark Zuckerberg to give $25M to fight Ebola

True to his social network, Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg announced on Facebook that the he and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, will give $25 million to help prevent the spread of Ebola.

Their donation will go to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, a private nonprofit that helps fund the CDC’s work. His donation comes after large philanthropic foundations have pledged their support in dollars, such as the $50 million to U.N. agencies and the CDC from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the $20 million the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has given under the banner of their “Tackle Ebola” campaign.

“[Ebola] is spreading very quickly and projections suggest it could infect 1 million people or more over the next several months if not addressed,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio.”

Polio was a global health crisis for decades until the development of a vaccine in 1955 and a massive global effort in 1988. Today, the virus has been eradicated everywhere except for Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. In Pakistan this year, polio infected the most people since 2000, triggering the World Health Organization to declare it an emergency. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative estimates that it needs $5.5 billion to meet its goals.

HIV/AIDS is still a global health crisis; 2.3 million new cases were reported in 2012. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 20 people live with the virus. The CDC estimates that 36 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

In 2013, an estimated $19.1 billion were donated to address HIV/AIDS, the largest sum of money in history. And yet, according to a report by UNAIDS and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, over $22 billion will be needed to address the epidemic in 2015.

But there is a key difference between HIV/AIDS and polio and Ebola. It’s possible to live with the viruses that Zuckerberg cites as other global health crises, especially in developed countries with accessible healthcare and medicine.

Ebola, on the other hand, is often fatal if left untreated. The fatality rate of the current outbreak is 70 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

The disease has killed more than 4,000 people.