MONROVIA, Liberia — As bodies littered the streets and the sick lay dying in front of overwhelmed clinics last year, President Obama ordered the largest American intervention ever in a global health crisis, hoping to stem the deadliest Ebola epidemic in history.
But after spending hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying nearly 3,000 troops to build Ebola treatment centers, the United States ended up creating facilities that have largely sat empty: Only 28 Ebola patients have been treated at the 11 treatment units built by the United States military, American officials now say.
Nine centers have never had a single Ebola patient.
“My task was to convince the international organizations, ‘You don’t need any more E.T.U.s,’ ” said Dr. Hans Rosling, a Swedish public health expert who advised Liberia’s health ministry, referring to Ebola treatment units.
“I warned them, ‘The only thing you’ll show is an empty E.T.U.,’ ” he added. “ ‘Don’t do it.’ ”
The American response, it turns out, was outpaced by the fast-moving and unpredictable disease.