Officials downplay debates over Ebola aid response

FILE- In this Nov. 5, 2014, file photo, on the outskirts of the city of Monrovia, Liberia, a health worker stands inside a medical tent that forms part of a new American clinic to be used for the treatment of people suffering from the Ebola virus. U.S. officials on Thursday, Nov. 20, acknowledged disagreements over coordinating the international response to the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. officials on Thursday acknowledged disagreements over coordinating the international response to the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, but they say most issues are being worked out and the overall fight against the disease there seems to be succeeding.

In a call with reporters, the officials said disputes have erupted over matters like where to build new treatment centers and getting U.S. military helicopters to transport patients and blood samples from remote areas.

But they also minimized the debates, characterizing them as a natural and fleeting part of an intense and complicated battle against the largest Ebola epidemic in world history.

“The proof in the pudding is they get resolved. And we have seen progress in Liberia,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Konyndyk joined Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to respond to a New York Times article Thursday spotlighting rocky coordination of efforts in Liberia. The Times cited the minutes of meetings between Liberian officials and representatives of foreign governments and aid groups assisting the West Africa nation, including the U.S., the United Nations and Doctors Without Borders.

Among the attendees were the CDC’s Dr. Kevin De Cock and Dr. Hans Rosling, a Swedish epidemiologist who is acting as a consultant to Liberian health officials.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday from Liberia, De Cock said; “There are loads of reasons why the Ebola response is complicated — the logistics are extremely difficult and the resources are very limited, but it is not because people are fighting.”

Rosling — who is deeply involved in coordinating Liberia’s response — echoed De Cock.

“This is an emergency response and there will always be coordination challenges,” he said.

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