UN chief warns of setbacks in tackling Ebola

United Nations, June 3 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has applauded the progress made in fighting Ebola and warned of possible setbacks in case of lapse in vigilance, media reported on Wednesday.

“We have made great strides towards bringing the outbreak under control. Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9, after 42 days with no cases,” he said at the General Assembly Informal Plenary on Ebola held here on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“This is remarkable progress in what was once the worst affected country. It proves the power of strong national leadership, proactive national responders and communities, and international support in solidarity with the country’s people.”

“I applaud Liberia on reaching this milestone — but we cannot celebrate yet. As long as there are Ebola cases in any country in the region, all countries are at risk,” said Ban, who stressed community engagement and active surveillance are essential, while warning of the virus spreading because of lapse in vigilance.

He urged the general assembly to continue lending its political weight to the effort to fight Ebola and donors to continue their contributions.

According to Ban, the UN system will work with national governments and regional partners to ensure that all investments in fighting Ebola serve as the basis for carrying out longer-term recovery and for strengthening national health systems.

Ban said he would convene an International Ebola Recovery Conference on July 10 with the purpose of addressing issues related to the fight on Ebola and helping mobilize the resources needed to start early recovery.

“My appeal to you is clear: we are in the last mile of the response, but the job is not done. We need you to persist in supporting the region in getting to a resilient zero cases and then beginning to recover,” said Ban.

According to the latest case counts by the World Health Organization, the Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 11,000 lives as of May 31, with West Africa being the hardest-hit region.

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