UN: UN appeals for support for Ebola-affected countries

New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday appealed to members of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) "to do whatever it takes" to help the West African countries hardest hit by Ebola, to grow back stronger and more resilient.

"The international response to date has been unprecedented in its speed and generosity, but much more will be asked before this emergency is over," Ban told a special ECOSOC meeting tagged: "Ebola: A threat to sustainable development", held at the UN headquarters in New York.

He said: "Today, let us resolve to do whatever it takes to assist the governments of the affected countries to recover stronger and more resilient from the Ebola crisis."

He noted that the social and economic impact of the Ebola crisis in West Africa had been broad and deep and would long outlast the outbreak.

The UN chief stated: "Incomes are down. Prices have risen. Markets are bare. People are hungry, and that is why it is imperative that while we work to end the Ebola outbreak, we must also begin to focus on recovery."

ECOSOC President, Martin Sajdik, who convened the meeting, said Council members stood ready to help mobilize all partners, including a network of non-governmental organizations, to ensure that economic and social recovery efforts helped stabilize the worst-affected countries and strengthen their preparedness to prevent future outbreaks.

"While the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly are focused on mobilizing international support for stopping the outbreak in the short-term, the ECOSOC must begin to plan for a post-Ebola response that will ensure that the affected countries do not fall too far off track from progress already achieved towards the Millennium Development Goals," Mr. Sajdik said.

He also stressed the need for the international community to render support towards the economic recovery of the affected countries.

The UN Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, also briefed the meting on the current state of the epidemic based on his just concluded visit to Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone, which has now reached 17,517 cases with 6,187 deaths, according to WHO’s most recent statistics.

Dr. Nabarro said: "Even as we fight Ebola, attention must be on helping the affected societies to build back better. This involves, for example, building local capacity of national health workers by integrating them in the response.

"The Ebola outbreak has crippled the health sector in the three worst affected countries. There was already a shortage of health workers."

He said: "For example, Sierra Leone had only two doctors for every 100,000 people which is approximately 120 doctors for six million people before the Ebola outbreak began."

On her part, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan,
noted by video-link from Geneva that the "fear of Ebola is moving faster than the virus".

She said this was the largest, longest, most severe, and most complex Ebola epidemic.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, noted that the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) estimates showed that at least 7,500 children had lost one or two parents to Ebola, while schools have remained closed indefinitely, leaving an estimated five million children out of school.

PANA in New York reports that the special meeting was attended by government
representatives from the Ebola affected countries, international donors and other UN agencies.

The UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), meanwhile, reported on Friday that Guinea-Bissau had announced that it would reopen the country’s official border crossings with Guinea within five days.

According to UNMEER, Guinea-Bissau had closed the border in August 2014 in an effort to prevent cross-border transmission of Ebola.

The mission also explained that a recent summit of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had recommended the reopening of borders with the most affected countries to accelerate response efforts and avoid stigmatization of their populations.

In another development, WHO on Friday made available in a Q and A format a snapshot of the
current state of clinical trials and evaluations of potential vaccines and therapies for Ebola.

The UN health agency also said it will be bringing to Geneva next week health and finance ministers, non-state actors, donors and international technical agencies with the aim of laying the foundation for stronger health systems in the medium- to long-term in the Ebola-affected countries.
-0- PANA AA/MA 5Dec2014

05 december 2014 20:59:49

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