UN: UN officials call for more efforts to end Ebola cases

New York, US (PANA) - The  UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, on Wednesday in New York said that the final phase of getting to zero the number of Ebola cases may well be the hardest, saying that "the hunt to track down the Ebola virus is like looking for needles in haystacks".

Dr. Nabarro told UN reporters that having strong surveillance capabilities on the ground to identify people with Ebola, to confirm diagnosis, to quickly arrange effective treatment, to identify people that are their contacts and to keep those people under review for 21 days was a really difficult task, especially as these tasks must be coordinated through 63 different government structures in an area the size of France.

The UN envoy, who spoke after briefing the UN General Assembly, said the UN system and other partners required additional finance to support the work of national governments as they strived to get to zero cases.

If this intensive effort is to be sustained through 2015, the total cost will be around US$1.5 billion and the total funds available at this time are only around US$600 million.

One valuable mechanism for financing the response was through the Secretary-General’s Trust Fund, and so far, since it was set up in September 2014, it had received income from 32 donors and distributed US$131 million in strategic support for the response, he stated.

Dr. Nabarro also announced that this week, the UN would publish a first report of what had been done with all funds contributed and spent to date, noting that, more than 90 per cent of the contributed funds had been distributed.

Earlier, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his address to the General Assembly said: "We are facing a critical turning point, and the pattern of the Ebola outbreak has changed. 2015 has seen a significant decline in the number of new Ebola cases in the three affected countries.

"Let us provide the resources needed to get to zero...we are accelerating our work to reach the targets set by the Presidents of the Mano River Union on 15 February – zero cases in 60 days, by mid-April."

The UN chief also said that, "much important work lies ahead until the affected countries reach zero cases and begin the transition to reconstruction and recovery".

"I call on all responders to redouble their efforts, and on donors to stay the course, and looking ahead let us ensure that reconstruction and recovery can occur without delay," he said.

Also, the Assembly President Sam Kutesa said that the international community should feel heartened by the progress that had been made against the virus in the most affected countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

However, "we cannot yet claim triumph over Ebola. With the rainy season quickly approaching, efforts must be redoubled in order to ensure a final, successful push for eliminating this epidemic but also, begin to direct attention to the region’s long-term recovery effort".

He said the most-affected countries still faced serious challenges, particularly with regard to their long-term social-economic recovery, adding the devastating impact of the Ebola outbreak could seriously compromise their sustainable development efforts.

To that end, the Assembly President announced that a high-level international conference on
Ebola on 3rd March in Brussels, Belgium, was being organized to focus on the long-term needs
of the region.

The message by senior UN officials briefing an informal meeting of the General Assembly at UN headquarters on the public health crisis emanating from the Ebola virus outbreak was two-fold: the need for resources for immediate response to the disease that has affected some 23,000 people with 9,300 deaths, as well as the need to begin planning for revival and

Meanwhile in Guinea, 58 people have reportedly been convicted over an attack on Ebola workers in January 2015, according to UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

It said the charges included assault and battery of several government workers and medical staff, destruction of public buildings, public insults or threats, and rebellion.

UNMEER also reported that community resistance remained widespread particularly in 10 prefectures in Guinea.
-0- PANA AA/MA 18Feb2015

18 february 2015 22:45:13

xhtml CSS