The NEWS (Monrovia)

22 August 2014

Liberia: UN Coordinator for Ebola in Town

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has announced the arrival of the Senior UN Systems Coordinator for Ebola, David Nabarro, who according to the Mission will meet with key partners in the Government-led fight against Ebola during his three-day visit.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Liberia, Karin Landgren in a release said UN Secretary-General's appointment last week of Dr. Nabarro as Senior UN Systems Coordinator for Ebola and his immediate visit to the most affected countries underscores the UN's commitment to rolling back the deadly virus.

According to the release, the scope and scale of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is unprecedented, with over 1,350 deaths now recorded in the three countries and the numbers of new cases and deaths continuing to grow. In Liberia, 964 confirmed, probable or suspected cases have been reported. The actual number is likely much higher.

UN SRSG noted that "Dr. Nabarro's first priority is to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus. "This demands a sustained, fully coordinated international response, which must include an influx of qualified international medical personnel.

She noted that many materials are still lacking, including chlorine, gloves, personal protective equipment, tents and body bags.

Madam Landgren disclosed that health-care systems in the most affected countries were weak before the outbreak and indicated that now they are overwhelmed."

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has reoriented several parts of its operations to support the Government in the fight against Ebola. The Mission is leading a crisis logistics team at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and providing support to Superintendents and County Health Teams through UNMIL Field Offices in every county.

UNMIL is taking every necessary precaution to protect its personnel, which enables UN Police and military to continue providing back-up security to the Liberia National Police. UNMIL Radio and the Mission's outreach team are disseminating information on Ebola prevention and response, along with UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

"Ebola's impact now extends far beyond the families and communities of those infected with the virus. This situation poses a threat to broader public health, food security, physical security, and the national economy," said Landgren.

"The UN is working very hard to help mitigate these associated risks, for instance by providing food in some quarantined areas. But if we are to preserve the gains made over these 11 years of peace, Ebola must quickly be stopped," she added.

Dr. Nabarro will also visit Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as Nigeria, where 12 cases of Ebola have been recorded.

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