The United Nations Secretary -General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, has emphasized the need for the international community to remain fully engaged in its support to boost Liberia’s recovery efforts, while praising the government’s efforts in tackling the deadly Ebola virus disease for the second time being declared “Ebola free”.
He said particular attention should now be paid to key areas such as food security, health systems, and non-Ebola related health services.
According to a dispatch from New York, the UN Envoy made the observation over the weekend when he addressed the business community recently at the US- Liberia Trade and Investment Forum which took place in New York, U.S.A.
He said that the momentum built during the International Ebola Recovery Conference recently which generated tremendous international support for national recovery plans of the affected countries should be taken forward.
“There is a need to build up the public health systems and improve primary care in Liberia and the region,” Dr. Nabarro stressed, adding, “Ebola exploits fragile and overstretched health systems with limited public health capabilities; therefore, we must prioritize strengthening the health institutions, develop their infrastructure and support the training of the necessary personnel.”
Dr. Nabarro, who has worked for over fifteen years with the World Health Organization and the U.N. Secretariat respectively, said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex epidemic, posing challenges of epic proportions to the region and the global community.
He, however, acknowledged that there has been significant progress to end the Ebola outbreak; but was quick to stress that getting to and staying at zero remains a challenge in the other affected countries. “Transmission is on-going and the risk of reintroduction due to virus persistence has emerged as real threat.”
The UN expert intimated that the focus of this last phase of the Ebola response is aimed at reaching a sustainable end and preparedness to respond to any future outbreak.
He explained that the world must focus on understanding the risks especially viral persistence in survivors, maintain surveillance and putting in place a rapid response capacity that can quickly contain any future flare-up of the virus.
On the impact of Ebola on economies of the affected countries, Dr. Nabarro said the Ebola outbreak took a significant economic and social tool on West African nations. He said beyond human death and illness, the widespread and intense transmission of Ebola has had grave health, social and economic consequences; noting that it has devastated families and communities, compromised essential services including health and education, weakened economies and isolated affected communities.
Speaking on the role of the private sector towards the long term development of post-Ebola, Dr. Nabarro said that aside from the significant social and economic impact that Ebola has had on many West African countries, the epidemic has also triggered a range of innovative and flexible partnerships with the private sector, civil society actors, as well as local governments, regional organizations and international actors.
He stressed that the private sector continues to have a critical role to support and augment the traditional public sector-led response.