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UN ramps up response in fight against Ebola

Xinhua, October 23, 2014 Adjust font size:

A UN health committee has met for the third time in three months to evaluate the world body' s ongoing response to the global Ebola crisis amid broader agency- wide efforts in confronting the deadly disease, UN officials said here Wednesday.

The deputy UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters here the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola had begun consultations in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of its mandate.

The Emergency Committee is convened periodically to advise the WHO director general on the risks associated with disease outbreaks and deliver recommendations on travel and trade restrictions.

The group first met in August after which WHO declared Ebola a public health emergency of international concern and recommended the implementation of exit screenings for travelers who were sick or were in contact with those infected.

Haq said that the Emergency Committee would share its conclusions with the public Thursday.

According to WHO's latest situation report on the Ebola response, by Oct. 19, there had been 9,936 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola being documented across five countries, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States, and two previously affected countries, Nigeria and Senegal, while 4,877 people had died of the deadly virus.

Although the outbreaks have been declared over in Nigeria and Senegal, the UN health agency warned that Ebola transmission remained "persistent and widespread" in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The outbreak has impacted not only the health sector but various other areas. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) , for instance, noted that the current Ebola outbreak is the world 's largest on record to date, adding that the crisis is "adversely impacting the food security of affected populations."

"If not addressed now, the consequences of the outbreak could lead to long-lasting impacts on farmers' livelihoods and rural economies," UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned in a brief. "A multisectoral approach is required to contain the outbreak and stabilize affected areas."

FAO is "urgently calling" for 30 million U.S. dollars to support activities linked to its Regional Response Programme to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak over the next 12 months in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and at-risk countries, and is following "a twin-track approach to help halt the tragic loss of life while at the same time protecting incomes, nutrition levels and food security."

Given the situation, the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, Anthony Banbury, on Wednesday visited the Guinean capital of Conakry, where he met with President Alpha Conde. He arrived in the capital to present an operational framework for the Ebola response and "ensure a shared understanding of the key challenges and priority needs for Guinea, " the UN mission explained.

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