…UNMEER chief assures
OCTOBER 24, 2014 By Regina PrattBottom of Form
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, has said in Freetown that by 1st December 70% of confirmed Ebola cases would be treated at treatment centres because they would be closer to communities.
Banbury was speaking yesterday at a press conference held at the Hub hotel, former Mamba Point, where he told newsmen that a lot of things are happening behind the scene as efforts to eradicate the deadliest Ebola outbreak in the world intensify.
“This is a complex crisis,” he said. “I have worked in many major crises, but have not seen anything like what is taking place now in Africa. Taking a walk around the city of Freetown, one would realize there is a crisis in the country and UNMEER is planning to put it under control.”
The outbreak has overwhelmed the fragile health infrastructure in the three countries worst affected by the virus – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – killing almost 5,000 and infecting close to 10,000.
The mere scale of the outbreak has forced the international community to scale up medical and humanitarian intervention in the three countries, with France, the United States of America and United Kingdom leading efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone respectively.
Mr. Banbury revealed that in a recent meeting with stakeholders it was agreed that the identification of persons who may have come into contact with Ebola patients, provision of treatment facilities, safe burials and community engagements are critical to stemming the rate of new infections and bringing the outbreak under control.
The UN diplomat said that government should take the lead in working with various partners to mobilize resources, ensure prompt payments to health workers and organizing training for frontline workers, as a significant step to ending the outbreak.
The government last week renamed the Emergency Operations Centre as National Ebola Response Committee, and assigned the Defence Minister, Retired Major Paulo Conteh, as Chief Executive Officer to take the lead in an integrated response to eradicating the outbreak.
The UNMEER boss also disclosed that UN staff would be working at district level as more experienced staff are needed to run treatment centres around the country.
Until now, the country can only boast of treatment centres in Kailahun, Kenema and Freetown, with more expected in the coming weeks in other parts of the country as international aid pours in.
Mr. Amadu Kamara, who is UNMEER Crisis Manager in Sierra Leone, said they have hit the ground running, adding that they would open up all communication channels with the National Ebola Response Committee in a bid to expedite efforts to defeat the virus.
Meanwhile, in a meeting held in Accra, Ghana last week, it was decided that the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should have a final decision on an integrated approach and strategy for dealing with the Ebola crisis in their respective countries, as well as having national response plans in place.