WHO, WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES TO LAUNCH EBOLA RESPONSE PLAN
Aug 1 15:58
GENEVA,The World Health Organisation (WHO) and presidents of West African nations impacted by the Ebola virus outbreak will meet in Conakry, Guinea on Friday to launch a new joint US$100-million response plan to bring the disease under control. "The scale of the Ebola outbreak and threat it poses requires the WHO and Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to take the response to a new level," said WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in a statement issued Thursday. "The countries have identified what they need and WHO is reaching out to the international community to drive the response plan forward," she said. The disease response plan identifies the need for several hundred more personnel to be deployed in affected countries to supplement overstretched treatment facilities. Hundreds of international aid workers and more than 120 WHO staff are already supporting national and regional response efforts but more are urgently required. Of greatest need are clinical doctors and nurses, epidemiologists, social mobilisation experts, logisticians and data managers. The plan also outlines the need to increase preparedness systems in neighbouring nations and strengthen global capacities. Key elements of the new plan include strategies to stop transmission of the virus in affected countries through scaling up effective, evidence-based outbreak control measures; and to prevent the spread of the disease to neighbouring at-risk countries by strengthening epidemic preparedness and response measures. The WHO and affected and neighbouring countries will renew efforts to mobilise communities and strengthen communication on ways of avoiding infection. The plan also emphasises the importance of surveillance in border areas, risk assessments and laboratory-based diagnostic testing of suspected cases. Finally, reinforcing coordination of the overall health response is critical. This includes strengthening capacities of the WHO-run Sub-regional Outbreak Coordination Centre which opened last month in Conakry to streamline support to West African countries and assist in resource mobilisation. About 1,323 confirmed and suspected cases have been reported with 729 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March 2014.