Ban welcomes US support in Ebola response ahead of Security Council emergency session on outbreak

In response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, WHO has distributed these plastic buckets for hand washing in Guinea. Photo: WHO/L. Toure

In response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, WHO has distributed these plastic buckets for hand washing in Guinea. Photo: WHO/L. Toure

New York, 17 September 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, together with the head of the United Nations health agency, will outline the international action plan to contain Ebola tomorrow when the Security Council convenes an emergency meeting on the outbreak.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), in statements issued late Tuesday, both welcomed United States Government plans to ramp up its support to the global response to Ebola, saying the commitment exemplifies the kind of international effort required to intensify response activities.

Mr Ban “called on the international community to be as bold and courageous in its response as those who are on the frontlines fighting this disease,” according to at the UN statement.

According to the WHO, the backbone of the US response is military leadership and the establishment of a regional command and control in Monrovia.

The approach includes a military staging base to facilitate the coordination of the American and international response and to expedite the transportation of equipment, supplies and personnel including up to 3,000 from the military.

The new commitment provides support to the United Nations and to other international partners to help the Governments of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal in their work to contain this outbreak.

The United Nations on Tuesday released the Overview of Needs and Requirements to contain the Ebola outbreak, saying needs totalled $987.8 million for a massively scaled response, covering chiefly activities in the three most-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone for six months.

And on Thursday afternoon, the UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting on the outbreak, and the Secretary-General told reporters that he and WHO Director General Margaret Chan will outline the international action plan to contain this threat.

“This is not just a health crisis; it has grave humanitarian, economic and social consequences that could spread far beyond the affected countries,” the Secretary-General said at a press conference at UN Headquarters on Tuesday to outline the priorities of the new session of General Assembly.

To that end, next week, the Assembly will follow-up with a high-level meeting on the needs of the people and countries affected by Ebola which Mr. Ban described by saying “Every day we delay, the cost and the suffering will grow exponentially.”

WHO, in its most recent update, reported a total of 4,963 cases and 2,453 deaths attributable to Ebola in those three countries. In addition, in Nigeria, there have been 21 cases and eight deaths, and in Senegal, there has been one case, but as yet there have been no deaths.