Nearly six months after the first case of Ebola in West Africa was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN General Assembly and the Security Council have approved resolutions creating the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) to contain the ongoing outbreak which has sickened more than 5,500 people and killed over 2,500.
“This is not just a public health crisis. This is a social crisis, a humanitarian crisis, an economic crisis, and a threat to national security well beyond the outbreak zones,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General to the UN Security Council Thursday. “For these reasons, Mr. Secretary-General and I are calling for a UN-wide initiative that draws together all the assets of all relevant UN agencies,” she added.
This is the first time in history that the United Nations has created a mission for a public health emergency.The Mission will bring together the vast resources of the United Nations agencies, funds and program, to reinforce WHO’s technical expertise and experience in disease outbreaks.
While WHO plays a central role in leading the public health efforts for this response, the support of other United Nations agencies is essential to deal with the social, economic, development and security challenges that are affecting these countries and the region.
“This unprecedented outbreak requires an unprecedented response,” said Dr. David Nabarro, the UN Secretary General’s Senior Coordinator for the Ebola Response. “The numbers of cases have doubled in these countries in the last three weeks. To get in front of this, the response must be a 20-fold increase from where it is today.”
The Mission will immediately begin to pull together the assets from the relevant agencies and will create a hub in Accra, Ghana, and will work closely with the UN agencies and the Governments in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.