My Mandate: To Stop the Spread of Ebola

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A special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General to Ebola affected countries, Dr. David Nabarro has disclosed that he has been mandated by his boss, Ban Ki-moon, to stop the spread of the Ebola Virus in affected countries.

“My mandate from the Secretary General is clear. Stop the spread of the virus; help attend to the well-being of the Liberian people and help government address the economic consequence of the outbreak. Restoring the confidence of the people and the rest of the world that the virus can be beaten back is also very cardinal,” Dr. Nabarro indicated.

Countries that are to benefit Dr. Nabarro’s interventions include Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinean and Nigeria.

Since the Ebola virus hit the Mano River Union region, it has claimed over 1500 lives. According to latest data, Liberia is now the hardest hit country with over five hundred confirmed, probable or suspected deaths. The severity of the situation in the region prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon, early last week, appointed Dr. David Nabarro as Senior UN Systems Coordinator for Ebola, prompting his immediate visit to the most affected countries of the outbreak. He will also meet key partners in the government-led effort against Ebola during his three-day visit to Liberia.

Ahead of a high-level delegation, Dr. Nabarro met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry office last weekend. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Liberia, Karen Landgren, led the delegation to the Office of the President.

The UN Ebola Envoy, who said he was not a stranger to Liberia because he worked here in 2003 on a Post Conflict Program, told President Sirleaf that the UN is committed to rolling back the spread of the Ebola virus disease in Liberia and countries affected in West Africa.

He pointed out that his work in Liberia would be in partnership with the government and other actors to quickly break the spread of the virus. He also told President Sirleaf that mobilizing and coordinating resources from the various UN bodies, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank under a platform that can enhance action and result will be priorities to his work.

“Strategizing on a comprehensive plan, tracing all contacts, providing proper care, building confidence locally and internationally and getting public healthcare are quick actions that are required if the spread of the disease must be contained,” he stressed.

Dr. Nabarro also emphasized that the apparent lack of healthcare response from non-Ebola diseases due to the impact of the outbreak on the health system must also be urgently addressed.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, earlier at the meeting with the visiting United Nation delegation said the Ebola situation is far beyond the capacity of the country’s health system.

She stressed that the situation requires concerted international effort to contain the spread of the virus not only in Liberia, but the West African sub-region where the outbreak is focused and has claimed over 1000 lives.

President Sirleaf welcomed Dr. Nabarro and delegation to Liberia and admitted that the country was faced with a big problem as a result of the current outbreak that has claimed many lives with scores still infected.

President Sirleaf also briefed the team on the existing measures taken by government to contain the virus, indicating that with just three treatment centers at ELWA, John F. Kennedy Memorial Center and Foya in Lofa County, caring for the sick remains a challenge.

“Our main concern is to stop the spread of the virus. The establishment of more observation and treatment centers is strongly required but stopping the prevailing wave of the spread is even more critical if we must get rid of the virus,” President Sirleaf stressed.

The Liberian leader informed the UN team that government has established an Ebola Trust Fund with an initial contribution of US$5 million from the government and assured that accountability is important during and after the containment of the virus. She said timing was of essence in any intervention that will be derived from the work of the UN Systems Coordinator.

“The country’s economy is threatened and we are instituting several mitigation efforts; but stopping the spread is the most important intervention that can prevent deeper economic problems. So our major concern is to get it right, overcome the challenges and contain the spread of the virus,” she emphasized.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Liberia, Karen Landgren told President Sirleaf that the United Nations is focused on helping to contain the virus and stressed that the world body is fully behind Liberia. “Maximum support from the United Nations System is assured as Liberia combat the spread of the deadly Ebola virus disease,” the SRSG indicated.

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