Ban to convene meeting of world leaders on tackling Ebola outbreak

Ebola response: medical supplies, including protective equipment and essential medicine, are loaded onto trucks at the Lungi International Airport in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone. Photo: UNICEF/Sulaiman Stephens

23 September 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced he will convene a meeting of world leaders this week on a response to the Ebola outbreak as new studies warn of an exponential climb in the coming weeks unless swift action is taken to control the spread of the virus.

The High-level Meeting on Response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak is scheduled at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, 25 September 2014, at 11 a.m.

“This meeting will bring together global leaders to focus international attention to combat the outbreak of Ebola virus disease,” Mr. Ban announced in a press statement. “It aims to mobilize an exceptional response to contain and stop the spread of the virus, treat those who are infected, ensure essential services, preserve stability and prevent outbreaks in other countries.”

Among the participants will be the affected countries: Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea, and via teleconference, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

To date, more than 5,800 people have been sickened by and over 2,800 killed by the Ebola virus, according to statistics reported to the UN World Health Organization (WHO) by the Ministries of Health of hard- hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Mr. Ban also announced today the appointment of David Nabarro as his Special Envoy for Ebola and Anthony Banbury as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

These appointments follow the unanimous adoption last week of a UN General Assembly resolution and the adoption of a Security Council resolution on the Ebola outbreak.

Dr. Nabarro will provide strategic and policy direction for a greatly enhanced international response and will galvanize essential support for affected communities and countries.

Under Mr. Banbury’s leadership, UNMEER will ensure the rapid, effective and coherent action necessary to stop the Ebola outbreak, to treat the infected, to ensure essential services, to preserve stability and to prevent the spread to countries.

The announcements were after WHO announced today that unless Ebola control measures in west Africa are enhanced quickly, more than 20,000 people will have been infected by early November.

The findings were made in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine released 6 months after WHO was first notified of the outbreak in west Africa.

In the article, public health epidemiologists and statisticians reviewed data since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2013 to determine the scale of the epidemic, better understand the spread of the disease, and what it will take to reverse the trend of infections.

According to WHO, the current Ebola outbreak has since evolved into the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak in the history of the disease. The 3 most-affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – face enormous challenges in stopping transmission and providing care for all patients.

Speaking from Monrovia, Antonio Vigilante, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Recovery and Governance, today said Ebola crisis was still developing and worsening each day in Liberia.

Mr. Vigilante told reporters in Geneva said that regular health workers were indeed coming in, but a lack of lack of specialised medical staff for the treatment of Ebola persisted. Besides doctors, specialized nurses or assistants were extremely crucial for the fight against Ebola since its treatment was reliant not only on a specialised medical treatment, but also on the provision of Ebola-specific care.

The World Food Programme (WFP) noted that the Ebola was not just a health crisis, but it also had grave social and economic consequences that could spread far beyond the affected countries.

The United Nations has estimated its current needs at nearly $1 billion.

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Ebola: As global response lags, UN warns 20,000 may be infected by November

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