UN: UN chief lauds progress on Ebola, but still a pressing challenge

New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday in Washington DC, US, said although there has been important progress over recent months on Ebola, the epidemic remains a pressing challenge.

Ban, who spoke a high-level session on Ebola recovery efforts at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings in the US capital city, stressed that, "on the road to eradicating the scourge the last mile may be the toughest, and our marathon effort has been a success".

"However, too many lives have been lost. Families, communities and nations have been devastated, and when we reach zero cases, we must maintain our response capacity for at least a year," he stated in a transcript of his speech, obtained by PANA in New York.

He called on the international community to continue strengthening surveillance and community engagement, while commending Presidents and governments of the affected West African countries for showing leadership and communities for adopting safe and dignified methods of caring for the sick and burying the dead.

The UN chief said: "We have seen multilateralism at its best. I thank the many governments, local and international NGOs and, in particular, the brave doctors and nurses working on the front lines.

"As a result, there has been a significant decline in new Ebola cases. Liberia has only recorded one case in the past two months, and the outbreak has shrunk considerably to a narrow belt, along coastal Guinea and Sierra Leone.

"These efforts must also recognize the fragility of these countries' transitions from past conflicts and instability to sustainable peace and development."

Ban, however, stated that, women, men and children needed to have safe and affordable access to clinics, hospitals and school, and people also needed jobs and access to markets.

Affected communities, the bereaved and orphans needed support. People's faith in their governments' ability to serve them must be reinforced.

"These are our building blocks to repair the fabric of communities, economies and societies torn apart by this terrible disease," he added.

The UN chief also thanked the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, for organizing the gathering, and commended the leadership of the Presidents of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, saying: "This is multilateralism at its height."

"Just as we helped the affected countries when the outbreak was at its height, we have to stand by them as the outbreak now ebbs, and that means providing essential services to these countries – health care systems, education, jobs and markets," Ban said.

The secretary-general also said he would convene a high-level pledging conference in New York in July to mobilize more financial and technological resources, to help the economic and social recovery in the affected countries.

"Looking forward, I count on the international community to continue to demonstrate generosity and unity of purpose, and in the meantime there is the urgent unfinished task of getting to zero cases and staying there. I think we can make it," he said.

The World Bank at the event announced that it would provide at least US$650 million during the next one year-and-a-half to help the most-affected countries, namely Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to recover from the social and economic impact of the outbreak.

The new pledge brought the World Bank's total financing for Ebola recovery to US$1.62 billion.

According to the latest data from World Health Organization (WHO), some 25,826 people have been infected and 10,704 have died from the Ebola virus.
-0- PANA AA/MA 17April2015

17 april 2015 20:41:13

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