UN: UN lauds Mali for stemming Ebola epidemic

New York, US (PANA) - The UN on Friday commended Mali for stemming the Ebola outbreak and urged the West African nation to remain vigilant as neighbouring countries continue to report new cases as part of the epidemic that has recorded nearly 22,000 cases and more than 8,600 deaths to date.

Mali was declared Ebola-free earlier this week after a period of 42 days without a new case.

"We came with a message of congratulations. We came to say bravo, but remain vigilant," the head the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed, was quoted as telling Malian Prime Minister Modibo Keita in Bamako, the Malian capital city.

A UN statement, obtained by PANA in New York stated that, Mr. Ahmed accompanied by Dr. Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organizations (WHO), also emphasized the need to strengthen cross-border surveillance as part of the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The UN envoy said: "People, communities do not recognize the border, and therefore the next challenge for Mali – as indeed for Senegal and Nigeria, who also managed to isolate the few cases that came - is to remain vigilant, and we are not immune to new cases here and there, until we have zero cases throughout West Africa."

He said that UNMEER and WHO would support local authorities prepare for a cross-border meeting planned to take place in Lofa County in Liberia next week to improve border surveillance strategies and strengthen cross-border notification.

He said local authorities participating in the meeting included those in the districts bordering Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The statement said that WHO had recommended "robust" exit screening in the three affected countries, which was "critical for minimizing the risk of exportation of Ebola cases".

According to WHO, surveillance and information sharing would be increased in the border districts of Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal adjacent to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The UN has appealed for US$1 billion needed for the first six months of 2015 to sustain the momentum to stamp out Ebola in the region where the epidemic has started to slow down in all three of the worst-hit countries.

In the latest statistics issued on Friday, WHO reported 21,759 Ebola cases and 8,668 deaths.

Meanwhile in Sierra Leone, the UN health agency said two successive emergency response campaigns to distribute anti-malarial drugs to people living in areas affected by the Ebola virus disease outbreak had successfully reached more than 2.5 million people, and significantly reduced the number of people with fever that might be mistaken for Ebola.

It said during the West Africa Ebola outbreak, people infected with malaria had been afraid to go to health centres for treatment or had been unable to receive treatment because some centres were closed.

To reduce malaria transmission and related deaths, WHO has recommended a mass drug administration of anti-malarial medicines to all eligible people in Ebola hotspot areas.
-0- PANA AA/MA 23Jan2015

23 january 2015 20:23:42

xhtml CSS