Saying we're at a "critical turning point" in the fight against Ebola, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating a hefty $25 million to the cause.
Here's what Zuckerberg had to say in a post:
The Ebola epidemic is at a critical turning point. It has infected 8,400 people so far, but it is spreading very quickly and projections suggest it could infect 1 million people or more over the next several months if not addressed.
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.
We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome.
Grants like this directly help the frontline responders in their heroic work. These people are on the ground setting up care centers, training local staff, identifying Ebola cases and much more.
"The U.S. has a GDP of $17 trillion. Why should YOU have to put in $25MM???" asks one commenter.
"I think we have a responsibility to help out wherever we see a need," said Zuckerberg in reply. "One problem right now is that most people -- including government leaders -- don't realize we're at such a critical turning point. It's easy to say Ebola is still small compared to other diseases or that it's mostly in other countries and won't affect us, but if we don't get this under control soon, then it will spread and become an epidemic we have to deal with for decades to come.
"Spending $25 million to help get this under control now is very little cost compared to all the lives it could save and all the billions of dollars of costs we'd have to spend fighting the disease if it spread much further."
Worldwide, the Ebola outbreak has seen almost 9,000 identified cases – mainly in West Africa. There have been nearly 4,500 deaths, according to the UN. The UN has advised that we have about two months to contain the outbreak (70% infected in care and 70% dead buried) otherwise "face an entirely unprecedented situation for which [they] do not have a plan."
In the United States, a second health care worker in Dallas has tested positive for the virus, following the first confirmed death from Ebola diagnosed in the US – one Thomas Eric Duncan.
"Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored. The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus," say Texas state health officials.
"It makes me happy that the better Facebook does, the more Priscilla and I can do to help others!" said Zuckerberg.
Image via Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook