UN plans conference to aid Ebola recovery

27 May 15

The United Nations is to hold an international conference to boost the recovery from Ebola in Africa in July, secretary general Ban Ki-moon has announced.

In a statement yesterday to mark Africa Day, Ban said the year-long health crisis in West Africa, which has claimed at least 11,000 lives, had also threatened hard-won social, economic and political achievements

An international conference in New York would intensify efforts to get to zero cases and stay at zero, he said, as well as repair the damage and strengthen social and institutional resilience throughout the continent.

The announcement of the conference comes after the UN’s World Health Organization reported ‘a substantial increase’ in the weekly total of new Ebola cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone on May 20. The WHO has deployed a response team to the border with Guinea-Bissau because of its proximity to a recent cluster of cases in a neighbouring Guinean prefecture.

Confirmation of the UN conference also comes exactly one year after the first Ebola case was confirmed in Sierra Leone.

Marking the anniversary, UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said that in the months that followed, the disease had swept across the country claiming thousands of lives, devastating communities and temporarily crippling the economy.

However, Greening today said the UK could be proud of its work in leading the international humanitarian response in the country.

‘Working hand in hand with the government of Sierra Leone and its people, we have supported them through every step of this disease – setting up labs to quickly diagnose Ebola, raising awareness about how the disease is spread, building treatment centres, training frontline health workers, and funding teams to provide safe and dignified burials.

‘The number of cases has now fallen from a peak of over 500 a week in November to just eight last week. We won’t have won this battle until we get to zero infections and stamp out Ebola. We will continue to work with Sierra Leone’s government and local communities to seek out and isolate every new case.’

Greening added that there was no room for complacency, but the end of the outbreak may be in sight in the country. ‘The UK will continue to stand by Sierra Leone until the job is done but it is vital that others now join us to help Sierra Leone get back on its feet,’ she added.

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