Courage of Ebola health workers should inspire greater efforts by all, says Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) stands with Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone, seen here showing their hospital discharge certificates. Photo: UNMEER/Martine Perret

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) stands with Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone, seen here showing their hospital discharge certificates. Photo: UNMEER/Martine Perret

New York, 22 December 2014 – Citing the “memorable and moving” example of a Sierra Leonean nurse who had contracted Ebola but became a caregiver as soon as she had recovered, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that kind of commitment “should move us all to do more to end the outbreak” in West Africa.

Mr. Ban spoke to reporters at UN Headquarters upon his return from a trip to the region that took him to Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Ghana to ensure that “the UN response is a rapid, effective and comprehensive one.”

“Over the past few days, I witnessed immense suffering,” he stated. “Ebola is a terrible disease that denies the humanity of its victims and stigmatizes its survivors. But I also saw almost superhuman acts of kindness and support.”

The UN chief said he saw the progress being made and the slowing of the rate of transmission in many places.

“Where the strategy of isolation of the patients and treatment, contact tracing and safe and dignified burial is implemented, it is working,” Mr. Ban said. “Some areas that were once hot spots, such as Lofa County in Liberia, have been free of Ebola for weeks.”

He noted an “especially memorable and moving encounter” at a local Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone with a nurse named Rebecca Johnson, who contracted the disease, survived and then immediately became a caregiver again.

He also met other patients who proudly showed off their certificates stating that they were cured completely from Ebola.