Ebola Virus Fight Continues in Sierra Leone and Liberia

This ship in Las Palmas, Spain, is being loaded with WFP supplies and 1,920 metric tons of USAID-donated commodities and headed for Ebola response operations in Guinea. Photo: WFP/Enrique Pulido
This ship in Las Palmas, Spain, is being loaded with WFP supplies and 1,920 metric tons of USAID-donated commodities and headed for Ebola response operations in Guinea. Photo: WFP/Enrique Pulido

Food aid for Ebola Virus hit Sierra Leone

NEW YORK – UN HEADQUARTERS – The United Nations and Governments of countries at the forefront of efforts to turn back the unfolding Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa have agreed to ensure that the UN system adopts a coordinated approach to global support being mobilized for national-level crisis response plans.

Wrapping up a four-day meeting in Accra, Ghana on strengthening the international community’s support to efforts by Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to tackle the Ebola crisis, top-level officials from the UN system and partner organizations reaffirmed the need to move rapidly and in a coordinated, precise manner to defeat the disease.

Food aid from the UN arrives on the outskirts of the Sierra Leone capital, which is battling an Ebola outbreak on Saturday.

It was a welcome sight for families who are finding it hard to make ends meet.

Prices have jumped because quarantined districts are restricting the movement of food supplies.

The World Food Programme says Saturday’s distribution has been the largest since the virus first spread.

Hassan Sayee says, “Things are very hard for us, may God help them, we want the World Food Programme to do more for us.”

There’s no cure yet for Ebola but pharmaceutical companies have been working on experimental drugs.

The World Health Organisation said more than 4,500 people have died from the disease, most of them in West Africa.

According to a press release from the Ghana-based UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), today’s meeting produced an operational framework to ensure the wider UN system adopts a unified and coordinated approach to the international support being provided to national response plans.

This comes as the UN has shifted into high gear to support the efforts of hard-hit countries in tackling the outbreak on all fronts, from food aid to delivery of building supplies, and providing healing and training for survivors.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York late last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the resilience of West Africa’s people and governments but underscored that “they have asked for our help…we need to turn pledges into action. We need more doctors, nurses, equipment, treatment centres and medevac capacities.”

As the scale-up continued, UNMEER chief Anthony Banbury welcomed the arrival last Wednesday in Accra of a massive German aircraft which will deliver needed supplies and material to affected countries in the region. “This flight is a welcome reflection of the international community’s support for the efforts to stop Ebola and help those affected by it – this support is vital if we are to stop the virus,” he said.

Today’s meeting in Accra was attended by the Chef de Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General, Susana Malcorra; the Director General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan; and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Etharin Cousin.

Also present were the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro and UNMEER chief, Mr. Banbury.

Among the other participants were senior officials from UN agencies, funds and programmes, as well as from international partners such as the World Bank, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Kingdom Department for International Development.

UNMEER noted that Mr. Banbury will return to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone next week to further consult with their leaders on the way forward and to brief them on the operational plans produced in the meetings that were concluded earlier today.

The Governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – each of which has the final decision on the overall approach and strategy for dealing with Ebola in their respective countries – have national response plans in place and have been responding to the crisis for many months.VIDEO by Reuters

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