December 22, 2014
UNITED NATIONS — The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, spoke after a system-wide meeting addressing the Ebola crisis, insisting that the UN’s response to the outbreak needs to be “Rapid, effective and comprehensive.”
He emphasized the importance of embracing those, including medical professionals, who traveled to affected areas, stating that, “Ebola caregivers should be praised, not shunned. People who have traveled to Ebola-affected countries and have no signs of infection, are no threat” and commented that it is also critical to “combat the contagion of fear.”
During his travels he visited the countries hit hardest by the outbreak: Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Ghana, where he took all necessary precautions including washing his hands in chlorine solution and regularly taking his temperature. This included a visit to an Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone. The patients visited by the Secretary General at the treatment unit included many people who had been cured of the virus as well as a nurse who had contracted the virus and immediately resumed her post after being declared free of the disease.
Ban Ki-Moon thanked the leadership during the crisis as well as the UN Personnel on the ground stating that the strategy “is working.” While he noted that the 1000 years of cultural history in these areas is rich, it has also been one of the challenges of combating the disease. With the rate of compliance regarding the treatment as well as the isolation and sanitation procedures, including the handling of the dead, is believed to be 80%, he reiterated that the goal is 100% compliance, saying “even one case can trigger an epidemic.”
The Secretary General also noted that he saw great suffering as well as “super-human acts of kindness” on his trip. He went on to say that the curve of the outbreak, which is now equal to the population of the UK, is trending down but not steeply enough and that continued support is paramount. He is asking all leaders to aide in this effort but also urged countries to start thinking about recovery strategies, “That means restoring essential services, getting children back in school, getting people back to work, rebuilding shattered economies and caring for thousands of orphans.”
Ban Ki Moon outlined four key steps to be taken in the effort to reach the goal of zero cases: One, adapt to the approach as the outbreak evolves, where the disease was once spreading from the epicenter, it now spreads from isolated chains; Two, increased emphasis on “hunting the virus” by deploying medical professionals to remote areas in order to increase the number of cases that are traced and treated; Three, step up recovery efforts to get people back to work and back in school; Four, take the lessons from the Ebola outbreak and use them to stay ahead of the next one which is sure to come.
Photo By: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire