UN: WHO, UN officials say progress in fighting Ebola must ensure long-term recovery efforts

New York, US (PANA) - Intense efforts to control the Ebola outbreak in the three most-affected
West African countries will continue, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, said in Washington, DC, US on Thursday.

She said at the ongoing World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings holding in the US capital city that the
international community was also looking for ways to build on dramatic recent progress by aiding with efforts aimed at recovery from the outbreak.

"The goal is to help people and their communities to return to a normal life again, and it means that children are going back to school, women can once again shop in their local markets, and livelihoods are restored,'' Ms Chan said.

She placed particular importance on rebuilding health systems and services to reduce risks
that were inherent within weak systems, saying such rebuilt systems should cover basic, essential, primary healthcare with sensitive surveillance to give early warnings of any dangerous outbreaks.

"The health systems in the three countries were fragile to begin with, they collapsed during the
Ebola outbreak, and there s the need to speed up recovery," the WHO chief said.

She also said trust and confidence must be restored to ensure that parents immunise their
children, pregnant women have confidence in giving birth safely and so malaria and other
infectious diseases can be prevented.

WHO's Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward provided some impressions of the outbreak response from the front-lines, and underlined the importance of building resilient systems and helping the most-affected States – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to recover.

He, however, said it would be impossible to fully recover if the main task of eradicating Ebola was not completed.

"Success is not assured, there is a terrible, terrible and growing sense that this is done. This is not done. It started with one case. There were 37 cases last week. It is not done," he said.

While pointing to "stunning" progress in reining in the outbreak and meeting ambitious targets on reducing prevalence of Ebola, including the effort to limit new cases to coastal areas that would be easier to control as the rainy season looms, Dr. Aylward stressed the difficulty associated with those efforts.

"It is been 12 grinding months to get here but that is where we have arrived right now, it is
a bumpy road but it is going in the right direction," he added.

On his part, Dr. David Nabarro, the UN’s Special Envoy on Ebola, stressed how tough the global response to the "frightening devastation" wrought by Ebola has been throughout the process so far.

"It is a cause of insecurity that needs to be taken as seriously as terrorism, and it needs defences as well financed and organised as terrorism," Dr. Nabarro said.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 16April2015

16 april 2015 22:44:30

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