The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is growing into a regional and global security threat, U.S. President Barack Obama said.

In an address at a UN high-level meeting on Ebola on Thursday, Obama said: "This is more than a health crisis. This is a growing threat to regional and global security. In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, public health systems are near collapse.  Economic growth is slowing dramatically.

"If this epidemic is not stopped, this disease could cause a humanitarian catastrophe across the region. In an era when regional crises can quickly become global threats, stopping Ebola is in the interests of the entire world."

Describing Ebola as a priority for the U.S., Obama added: "This must also be a priority for the world."

The president said those who fighting "on the front lines" against the disease had requested more medical supplies and health workers.

He said: "There’s still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be. We know from experience that the response to an outbreak of this magnitude needs to be both fast and sustained -- like a marathon, but run at the pace of a sprint.

"That’s only possible if every nation and every organization does its part. And everyone has to do more."

Ebola has killed nearly 3,000 people in West Africa in recent months, according to the World Health Organization. The agency warned Tuesday more than 20,000 people could be infected in the next six weeks if authorities fail to take more measures.

A new report by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases could increase to as high as 1.4 million in Liberia and Sierra Leone alone by mid-January without boosted efforts to counter the epidemic. 

Anadolu Agency