UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) convened a United Nations system-wide coordination meeting in response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is now affecting more than 1 million people in the so-called “hot zone of disease transmission” on the borders of the three countries most impacted by the disease.
According to the latest update issued today by the World Health Organization (WHO), between August 10 and 11, 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease, as well as 56 deaths, were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 and deaths to 1,069.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan gave a bleak assessment on the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa during a briefing on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) to UN Member States in Geneva, saying the outbreak has placed every city with an international airport at risk of an imported case, and “no one is talking about an early end to the outbreak.”
“Decisions to seal off the hot zone of disease transmission, that is, the area where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone intersect, are critical for stopping the reinfection of areas via the cross-border movement of people,” Dr. Chan said.
“More than one million people are affected, and these people need daily material support, including food,” she said.
“The isolation of this zone has made it even more difficult for agencies, like MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières], to bring in staff and supplies,” she added.
At UN Headquarters today, the Secretary-General chaired a UN system-wide coordination on Ebola and stressed the need for the entire UN system to support the WHO’s efforts in combating the outbreak.
On Tuesday, Ban appointed David Nabarro as Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, in support of the work done by Chan and her team to counter the outbreak, which the agency has designated a “public health emergency of international concern.”
Also Tuesday, a 12-member ethics panel convened by WHO announced that it is ethical to treat Ebola patients with experimental drugs to counter the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak of Ebola virus disease in history.