Anthony Banbury, the Head of the first ever UN System wide Emergency Health Mission called the UN Mission for the Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) has arrived in Liberia as part of his final tour of the three countries most affected by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak. In each county, he will review progress in the fight against Ebola and areas where the UN can do more to help.
Appointed in September, Mr. Banbury’s tour of duty is coming to an end on 03 January. He will be replaced by Ismail OuldCheikh Ahmed of Mauritania who is expected to visit the ebola affected countries in early 2015.
During Mr. Banbury’s two day visit in Liberia, hewill travel to Sinje, Grand Capemount County for the opening of the new50 bed Ebola Treatment Unit run by the Intenational Organization on Migration. As of 22 December five new EVD cases had been reported. During the period from 23 May to 22 December there had been a cumulative total of 194 EVD cases and a cumulative total of 111 deaths from EVD.
Mr. Banbury will also travel to Saniquellie, NimbaCountywhere he will meet with the County Health Team, Ebola suvivors and healthcare workers. As of 22 December the county had reported zero new cases. During the period from 23 May to 22 December had been a cumulative total of 326 Ebola cases. Cumulative number of deaths from Ebola stands at 56 during the same period.
Today, 10 of Liberia’s 15 counties have no new reported cases of Ebola. Lofa County has not reported any new cases over the last seven weeks. Ebola Crisis Manager, Peter Graaff said that this is significant, as Lofa County, the initial site of the first outbreak in Libeia, is bordered by Sierra Leone and Guinea; both countries grappling with the Ebola Virus Outbreak.
UNMEER coordination and information sharing with the community, medical personnel, county health teams and non-governmental organizations are credited for the success in winning the fight against. However, there is still more work to be done in terms of contact tracing, behavior change and the cross border prevention and control of Ebola.
Liberia has met the 70-70-60 target set byMr. Banbury standing for 70% of reported infected people taken to health tcare facilities and 70% of burials conducted safely in the three most affected countries by the 60th day of the mission on 1 December.
To reach zero new cases, UNMEER has also supported Liberia in the organization and launch of the Ebola Must Go! Stopping Ebola is Everybody’s Business Campaign.
Recognizing the importance of this initiative by the end of the year, Mr. Banbury pledged $10,000 dollars to the campaign and $1,000 dollars to the UNICEF designated New Georgia Signboard Community where the campaign was launched December 8, 2014. UNMEER has also donated 10 Nissan Patrols to the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in early December.
In addition, Mr. Banbury, working closely with the Governments of Liberia,Guinea and Sierra Leone is coordinating cross-border efforts to fight Ebola.
Upon his arrival, Mr. Banbury is scheduled to meet with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleafand UNMIL/UNMEER staff. After Liberia, he will conclude his tour of the region with a trip to Sierra Leone.