UN: WHO, UNAIDS top officials visit Mali for Ebola response

New York, US (PANA) - The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, and Executive Director of Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Mr. Michel Sidibe, have visited Mali in a joint mission to support the country in its efforts to curb the spread of Ebola.

The visit came as the authorities there announced one new case while two more suspected patients were being tested.

A UN statement on Monday said the joint WHO/UNAIDS mission was to peruse in-depth on how the UN system could eradicate the epidemic and prevent further outbreaks.

It quoted WHO chief as saying: "In the past few weeks, Mali has responded quickly to find people who came into contact with someone infected with the disease.

"This rapid response was essential to prevent the disease from spreading. It is vital right now that WHO and all other UN organizations working in Mali support the government in maintaining this strong response until we are certain this outbreak is contained."

On his part, Mr. Sidibe stated: "The next 15 days are critical for ending Ebola in Mali, where at least 5 people have died from the virus and the coordination of action and strategic communication are key to success, as are immediate international funding and technical assistance."

The statement said, while in the capital, Bamako, Mr. Sidibe and Dr. Chan met with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Prime Minister Moussa Mara, and other government leaders to discuss Mali’s ongoing Ebola outbreak response and ways UN organizations could enhance their support.

It also quoted the UNAIDS chief as sayng: "I applaud Mali President's decision to keep borders open. Closing would add an economic and social crisis to the health one."

It said that, together with the Malian Minister of Health, the delegation also visited an Ebola treatment centre in Bamako being run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctos Without Borders), where an Ebola patient was being treated.

They later met with civil society representatives, religious leaders and health workers.

Dr. Chan also met with officials of the Centre for Vaccine Development, where a vaccine against the virus is currently in the first phase of human testing, and with other UN agencies and civil society groups working in communities to prevent the spread of Ebola.

To date, WHO has reported 15,351 Ebola cases in eight countries since the outbreak began, with 5,459 reported deaths.

Mali, previously free from the virus, is the latest country to register Ebola cases, six in total, all of which have been fatal.

The UN said it was romping up support on many fronts to support both the preparedness and response efforts of the Malian government, including with the announcement on Friday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) would establish an office in the country.

The office is scheduled to formally open an office in Mali on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it was delighted to report that their colleague who was receiving treatment at a hospital in France had made a full recovery and was now back at home in Sierra Leone.

In another development, UNMEER reported that Germany was to donate 400 motorbikes as part of its Ebola response so that blood samples could be brought to labs quicker.

On its part, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that more than 100 pallets of humanitarian cargo were offloaded in Sierra Leone, while the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) reported that 40 WFP trucks had arrived.

WFP has been given the job of coordinating logistics for the entire humanitarian community involved in the Ebola response.
-0- PANA AA/MA 24Nov2014

24 november 2014 21:37:12

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