Ban to take up fight against Ebola with heads of all UN organizations

Street sellers at Waterside market in central Monrovia, where there has seen a huge drop in customers over the past months due to the onset of the Ebola Virus Disease. Photo: UNDP/Carly Learson (20 November 2014)

20 November 2014 – On the eve of a meeting of United Nations agency chiefs to discuss ways to jointly tackle the Ebola outbreak, the World Bank reported today Liberia’s labour sector has suffered a huge blow since the start of the crisis, as a “massive effort” was underway in Mali to halt the spread of the re-emerged virus.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will tomorrow discuss the common effort to counter the Ebola outbreak with the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), made up of 29 Executive Heads of UN Funds and Programmes, specialized agencies, including the Bretton Woods Institutions, and related organizations – the World Tourism Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr. Ban and other CEB members are scheduled to speak to reporters in the early afternoon in Washington, D.C. where the meeting is taking place at the World Bank headquarters.

Meanwhile, in New York at UN Headquarters tomorrow afternoon, the Security Council has scheduled a meeting to hear a briefing by Dr. David Nabarro, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, and Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

The World Bank, meanwhile, has reported that 46 percent of those working at the start of the Ebola crisis are no longer working as of early November 2014, and that self-employed and wage workers have been the hardest hit, while agriculture is beginning to see returns to work as the harvest approaches.

It will be essential to focus relief efforts not only in areas where the virus is active, which is crucial, but also in those remote counties where the population was already quite poor, food availability was scarce and is now worsening, markets are closed, and mobility is extremely limited, according to the World Bank’s findings on the socio-economic impacts of Ebola on Liberia.

In an assessment of Ebola in Mali issued today, the UN World Health organization (WHO) said that “a massive effort is currently under way to identify all potential chains of transmission, monitor contacts, and prevent the outbreak from growing larger” and “at present 338 contacts have been identified and 303 (90 per cent of these have been placed under daily surveillance.”

WHO said the virus was almost certainly re-introduced into Mali by a 70-year-old Grand Imam from Guinea, who was admitted to Bamako’s Pasteur Clinic on 25 October and died on 27 October.

On Sierra Leone, the UN health agency said that when Ebola first swept through the Port Loko District, the rash of sudden inexplicable deaths was so shocking that local people explained it as “a witch plane crash.”

“But as husbands, wives, aunts, uncles and children began to sicken and die they realized this was not a supernatural event but something very human – that would take human actions to reverse,” it said. “WHO began racing to set up community care centres” and the first of these centres opened this month.

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