Along ‘Last Mile’ of Ebola Response, Secretary-General Warns Assembly: Investments, Sacrifices Could Be Lost Unless ‘We Complete the Job’

SG/SM/16814-GA/11650
2 June 2015

Along ‘Last Mile’ of Ebola Response, Secretary-General Warns Assembly: Investments, Sacrifices Could Be Lost Unless ‘We Complete the Job’

Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly informal plenary on Ebola, in New York today:

Thank you for this chance to update you on our response to the Ebola outbreak.  I bring a message of caution:  The world has come together to address this outbreak, but our investments and sacrifices could be lost unless we complete the job.

[General Assembly] President [Sam] Kutesa has shown wise leadership, and I thank him for his strong commitment and leadership.  I am also pleased to welcome Peter Graaff, my new Acting Special Representative of the UN Mission, UNMEER [United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response], who was critical in Liberia’s progress as the Ebola Crisis Manager.  And I welcome my Special Envoy, David Nabarro.  His efforts are key to our success in raising awareness and mobilizing resources.

We have made great strides towards bringing the outbreak under control.  Liberia was declared Ebola-free on 9 May, after 42 days with no cases.  This is remarkable progress in what was once the worst affected country.  It proves the power of strong national leadership, proactive national responders and communities, and international support in solidarity with the country’s people.

I applaud Liberia on reaching this milestone, but we cannot celebrate yet.  As long as there are Ebola cases in any country in the region, all countries are at risk.  I commend President [Ellen] Johnson-Sirleaf for her strong stance on ensuring that Liberia remains vigilant.

En Sierra Leone et en Guinée, la partie n’est pas encore gagnée. L’ONU et ses partenaires soutiennent les efforts que font ces pays, sous la direction du Président Koroma et du Président Condé, pour réduire — et maintenir — à zéro le nombre de cas.

Des capitales, l’action s’est déplacée vers les districts et, à présent, les agglomérations, où il est crucial que l’OMS et tous les autres intervenants restent présents et que le PAM continue de fournir moyens de transport et soutien logistique.

Overall case figures are significantly lower than early this year and last year, but we know that setbacks can follow.  Community engagement and active surveillance are essential.  Any lapse in vigilance could allow the virus to spread.  

UNMEER remains agile.  It continues adapting to the geographic evolution of the outbreak.  The mission is also shifting its capacities and assets in response to needs.  In February, I told this body that we had started planning to ensure UNMEER’s seamless and coordinated transition.  Now, I am pleased to report that we are on schedule.  As UNMEER progressively scales down, the UN agencies, funds and programmes are scaling up.

Nous sommes dans la dernière ligne droite. Ce qui va se passer maintenant est critique.  Après avoir fait tant de progrès et avoir tellement investi, nous ne pouvons pas baisser les bras avant que l’épidémie ait été complètement jugulée, d’autant que la saison des pluies rendra les interventions plus difficiles.

Les organismes des Nations Unies auront besoin de ressources considérables pour couvrir la courte distance qui nous sépare encore du but et pour appuyer les programmes de relèvement rapide.  Mon Envoyé spécial continue de mobiliser des ressources pour combler les déficits.

Success demands your sustained engagement.  I call on the General Assembly to continue lending its political weight to this effort and I call on donors to continue their contributions.  To lose support and focus now would be tragic.  All of your investments, all of the sacrifices and lives lost, and all of the risks that the relief workers took would be squandered if the outbreak recurs.

The United Nations system will work with national Governments and regional partners to ensure that all investments in fighting Ebola serve as the basis for carrying out longer-term recovery and for strengthening national health systems.

L’épidémie d’Ebola nous a montré combien il importe, pour prévenir les crises sanitaires, d’adopter une démarche qui soit centrée sur les gens et englobe l’ensemble de la société.  Les stratégies doivent couvrir tout le territoire, pas seulement les capitales.  Elles doivent garantir la fourniture de services de santé.  Et elles doivent prévoir le renforcement des capacités d’intervention rapide à la périphérie des pays touchés.

Nous devons soutenir les pays dans les efforts qu’ils font pour se remettre sur pied en devenant plus solides et plus résilients.  Pour cela, nous devons renforcer les programmes de relèvement rapide qui leur permettront de repartir sur la voie du développement mieux équipés pour supporter et surmonter les chocs qui pourraient se produire à l’avenir.

Next month, on 10 July, I will convene an International Ebola Recovery Conference.  It will address these issues and help mobilize the resources needed to start early recovery.  We must also translate lessons learned from this Ebola outbreak into stronger national and international systems to prevent and respond to health crises.  That is why I have commissioned an independent High-Level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises, led by President [Jakaya Mrisho] Kikwete of [the United Republic of] Tanzania.

My appeal to you is clear:  we are in the last mile of the response, but the job is not done.  We need you to persist in supporting the region in getting to a resilient zero cases and then beginning to recover.  Thank you for your strong support.

For information media. Not an official record.