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The United Nations has defined the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa as of “unprecedented extent” and a threat to the international peace and security. In this context the UN Security Council, with resolution 2177, has approved the deployment of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) aiming at stopping the outbreak, treating the infected, ensuring essential services, preserving stability and preventing further outbreaks1.
This is the most recent in a series of international commitments made since the beginning of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa by UN and foreign governments.
Action contre la Faim (ACF) welcomes these initiatives that show the international community’s commitment to solving the crisis and to further strengthening support to the governments of the three most affected countries. In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone the authorities are indeed struggling in containing the spread of the disease as health systems are weak and the fear among the communities and health workers is escalating.
ACF believes that this crisis is now of “unprecedented extent” due to the initial and prolonged underestimation of the outbreak’s magnitude. The slow response, weak coordination and lack of preparedness in initially non-affected areas, have resulted in the exacerbation of the health and socioeconomic crises in the three countries.
Almost nine months since the beginning of the outbreak in the region, it has become clear that proper and early treatment increase the chances of surviving. Nevertheless, the countries are facing a multitude of challenges, and ACF believes that it is the responsibility of the international community to enhance the efficiency of the response.
Recognizing the efforts already made by the Governments, the UN, Member States and the humanitarian stakeholders ACF urges:
Further, ACF expresses its concerns about the potential negative impacts of quarantine measures on people. These measures have not proved to be effective in limiting the spread of the disease and might, on the contrary, drive people underground leading to increased infections. ACF believes that governments and the international community should support and implement activities, such as case management, surveillance, support to health systems, and community mobilization, that are known to have a positive impact on the outbreak.