UN: UN meeting urges critical improvements to health systems of Ebola-affected countries

New York, US (PANA) - A UN high-level meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, said the international community must help Ebola-affected countries reboot their health systems so that they emerge from the current crisis more resilient and more focused on prevention efforts than ever before.

PANA reports that the meeting, coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), drew participants from UN agencies and Non Governmental Organisations.

Participants at the meeting, including Ministers of Health and Finance from countries at the epicentre of the Ebola epidemic as well as international organisations and development partners, discussed methods of integration for health services spanning clinical care to surveillance, health promotion, disease prevention and management and palliative care.

The meeting noted areas of improvement, which included "significantly strengthening" the
health workforce, enhancing community trust, engagement and ownership and ensuring the
development of resilient sub-national health systems.

In addition, it noted that the movement of people across the borders of the Ebola-affected
countries spotlighted the important need for a greater coordination of trans-national health
plans and an alignment of surveillance systems.

It said participants agreed that such efforts would require "substantial external financing" and
include all sectors of government, including health, finance, and education.

A statement on the meeting quoted Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation, as saying: "People in Ebola-affected countries are dying, not only from Ebola but also from other causes, because the majority of health facilities in these countries are either not functional or people are not using them for fear of contracting Ebola.

"A health system has to be able to both absorb the shock of an emergency like Ebola, and to continue to provide regular health services such as immunisation and maternal and child care."

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced an "expanded fight" against the
Ebola virus in West Africa over the next six months.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, UNICEF spokesperson Sarah Crowe explained that the ramped-up efforts would cost an estimated US$500 million, of which US$200 million had already been secured.

She said the new funding would also permit the agency to continue tackling what she described
as the "two major drivers" of the virus – the lack of early isolation of patients and unsafe burials,
while also promoting "life-saving behaviours" and training 60,000 community volunteers.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 13Dec2014

13 december 2014 10:02:05

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