UN: nearly US$1 billion needed to combat Ebola outbreak

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 17): The United Nations says it needs nearly US$1billion for an exceptional, international response to Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In a statement on it website, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said that with every passing day, the cost and the suffering will grow exponentially.”

“This is not just a health crisis; it has grave humanitarian, economic and social consequences that could spread far beyond the affected countries,” he said.

Earlier in Geneva, Dr. David Nabarro, UN System Senior Coordinator for Ebola, Valerie Amos, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), presented the overview of needs and requirements document.

They said that the needs totalled $987.8 million, covering chiefly activities in the three most-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone for six months.

Amos said that it was clear that if not dealt with effectively now, Ebola could become a major humanitarian crisis in countries currently affected.

“These countries were building their economies and institutions. Now their capacity to deliver the necessities of daily life for their people is on the brink of collapse.

“The Ebola outbreak poses a serious threat to their post-conflict recovery…We must act now, if we want to avoid greater humanitarian consequences in future,” she said.

The WHO in its most recent update yesterday 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, it said.

Meanwhile, Nabarro said the Ebola crisis “requires an exceptional, international response to address both the health crisis and the broader societal, economic and political threats to the countries affected.”

Amos added that Ebola was not just a public health emergency, but much more than that.

Meanwhile,Ban said the UN Security Council would convene an emergency meeting on the outbreak on Thursday, where he and WHO Director General Margaret Chan would outline the international action plan to contain this threat.

In addition, he said, next week, the General Assembly would follow-up with a High-Level Meeting on the needs of the people and countries affected by Ebola.

“Generous contributions are being announced each day – but we have a lot of catching up to do to provide the health services, food, water, sanitation and supplies that are needed.

“Every day we delay, the cost and the suffering will grow exponentially,” he said.