UN: Ebola response receives boost with donation of protective gear

New York, US (PANA) - The first of 700,000 sets of protective gear intended for healthcare workers battling on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa arrived on Monday from Japan, a UN statement said.

The statement obtained by PANA in New York, said 20,000 sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being part of the 700,000 sets of such equipment committed by the Government of Japan were received by the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) to boost the fight against Ebola.

It said the equipment would help provide critical protection to healthcare workers in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.

At the official handover ceremony in Accra, the head of the UN mission Anthony Banbury thanked Japan and stressed the need for contributions from partners around the world to keep up the fight.

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), it is most important to have protective equipment that protects the mouth, nose and eyes from contaminated droplets and fluids.

WHO said given that hands are known to transmit pathogens to other parts of the body, as well as to other individuals, gloves are essential, both to protect the health worker and to prevent transmission to others.

It noted that face cover, protective foot wear, gowns or coveralls, and head cover were also considered essential to prevent transmission to healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, the peacekeeper from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), who tested positive for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) on 3 December, was evacuated from the US-run Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia to the Netherlands on Saturday.

UNMIL head Karin Landgren said that she was encouraged that the medical evacuation process was organized quickly and efficiently and that the patient, who was in stable condition, would receive the best possible treatment in a Dutch medical facility.

WHO, in its latest statistics issued on Monday, said the total number of cases in the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone rose to 17,800 with 6,331 deaths.

In another development, UNMEER reported that the National Coordinator of Guinea’s National Ebola Response Cell, on instructions from President Alpha Conde, dispatched a number of cabinet ministers to the field to meet with local authorities and the population to end community resistance.

"The ministers were instructed to sensitize and inform the population about the government’s response strategy, reinforce the authority of the prefectural Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) response coordinators, and ensure the swifter deployment of comités de veille (community watch committees), which President Conde has criticized as progressing too slowly," UNMEER stated.

The Mission said WHO had been informed that Ebola contact tracing efforts had to be suspended in two locations due to local community resistance, including alleged death threats against Ebola response workers.

UNMEER said in Mali, some 20 UN peacekeepers who had been placed under quarantine after they were potentially exposed to the Ebola virus more than three weeks ago had been released.

It said the soldiers were being treated at a clinic in the capital, Bamako, for injuries sustained while serving in the UN mission in Mali, when a nurse working at the facility died of Ebola.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the 70th Anniversary session of the International Civil Aviation Organization Council (ICAO) in Chicago, US, commended the organization for "standing firmly" with the World Health Organization against general bans on travel and trade that block efforts to rush in medical responders and supplies.

Ban said: "When Ebola broke out, ICAO answered fear with facts."

He also said ICAO advocated measures to make sure that suspected cases were managed safely in ways to stop Ebola from spreading. As part of the global Travel and Transport Force, ICAO is coordinating the international response to Ebola’s impact on travel, trade and tourism.
-0- PANA AA/MA 8Dec2014

08 december 2014 22:32:12

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