Dr. Nabarro stated that the current response to Ebola is the most extraordinary mobilization around a health issue he has ever seen. The current breakout is an issue that is deeply affecting society, economies, governments, and many aspects of global affairs—way beyond what ministries of health and health professionals are personally responsible for. People across many disciplines must therefore work together.
Although there have been “some signs of positive progress,” said Dr. Nabarro, “they are small signs.” In parts of West Africa, where communities are fully involved in the response and have proper resources, there are signs of a slowing of the outbreak. However, there are hotspot areas in which transmission is fierce. The response must learn to be flexible, bending to address the needs in areas where new hotspots emerge.
Essential services in affected countries are being undermined—access to health service for regular, typical accidents and health problems is limited; central services for poverty eradication have faltered; agriculture is being disturbed; access to education has suffered; and other functions of government are not working.
However, the World Bank and African Development Bank have given money directly to the governments of affected countries, ensuring that the capital exists to get health workers and responders the resources they need; communications capacities in affected countries are being increased; NGOs and UNICEF are involved in responding to the increasing number of orphans created by Ebola; UNMEER works to ensure community care facilities are created in areas touched by new outbreaks; and vaccines and experimental drugs have been in testing and production.
A representative of Sierra Leone reminded listeners that we must also begin thinking about comprehensive post-Ebola recovery—we must invest in recovery so that affected countries can get back on track and working on development once Ebola is beaten.
Meeting: Briefing by the United Nations System Senior Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease
Time: 12 November 2014
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, UN HQ, New York
Speakers: Dr. David Nabarro, UN Special Envoy for Ebola
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon