UN: 'Fight against Ebola requires district-by-district approach' - UN envoy

New York, US (PANA) - The outgoing head of the UN Emergency Ebola Response Mission (UNMEER), Mr. Anthony Banbury, said on Tuesday that communities are going to play a big role in defeating the "nasty disease" in West Africa by stopping outbreaks while they are small and not allowing them to become bigger.

"Ebola is a very nasty disease, and it is going to present us with some very unpleasant surprises, I fear going forward, and that is why we really need to strengthen our capabilities," Mr. Banbury told UN Radio in Monrovia, Liberia.

A transcript of the interview obtained by PANA in New York, quoted the UN envoy as saying: "What is so important is that we have good surveillance on the ground so we can have early detection of any outbreak and a rapid response capability so that any outbreak that is detected we can stamp out quickly while it is a small outbreak and not allow it to become a big outbreak."

He also credited the "really important" role communities were playing and would continue to play in bringing to an end the outbreak, which had so far affected more than 20,000 with over 7,800 deaths, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

He also called on communities to keep working to stop the spread of the disease and take note of all health advice and precautions to guide against the outbreak.

While acknowledging the difficulty in getting Ebola response workers to some of the remote areas, Mr. Banbury emphasized the importance of a district-by-district strategy and said: "We really need to be present out in the districts."

PANA reports that Mr. Banbury, who is ending his tour of duty on 3 January 2015, met with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf during his two-day visit to Liberia and said he was "extremely pleased" with the progress he saw on the ground when he visited an area which has suffered from the outbreak.

He will be succeeded by Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania as the head of the first UN-system wide operation to tackle a health emergency.

Meanwhile, UNMEER reported that on 29 December, a health care worker was diagnosed with Ebola after returning to Scotland from Sierra Leone, and the patient was transferred to a specialist treatment centre in London the following day.

It also said authorities reported that two more people were being tested for the virus.

In Guinea, the UN mission also reported on Tuesday that the UN Development Programme (UNDP) made additional incentive payments to 758 health personnel working in four Ebola treatment facilities in Guinea to ensure their continued engagement in saving patients.

The mission disclosed that the UNDP, in conjunction with the World Bank, assisted the Guinean Ministry of Health with US$220,000, which was deposited in local banks.
-0- PANA AA/MA 30Dec2014

30 december 2014 20:17:27

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