Friday 4th July, 2014Printable Version
Speaking at end of an emergency conference of government ministers in Accra, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO Africa Regional Director, said cultural practices such as bathing and touching dead bodies to say farewell was a major cause of contracting the disease.
The meeting was to obtain consensus from member states and partners represented on the optimal way of interrupting the ongoing Ebola virus transmission in West Africa.
Health ministers of 11 countries including the affected countries and partners involved in the Ebola outbreak response gathered to discuss the best ways of tackling the crisis collectively and to develop a comprehensive inter-country operational response plan.
Dr Sambo urged ministers of health in affected countries to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to contain the outbreak.
“Ministers of Health in neighbouring countries should strengthen disease surveillance and increase investment in epidemic preparedness,” he told the meeting.
A total of 750 cases and 455 deaths have been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia making the outbreak the largest reported to date in terms of number of cases, deaths and geographical spread.
"For the first time the Ebola virus is circulating in both urban and rural communities. If care is not taken, the current trend of Ebola and potential risk of cross-border and international spread would constitute a major public health concern," Dr Sambo said.
He called for better communication between governments and communities to produce reliable data and appropriate actions.
“The extensive movement of people within and across the borders has facilitated the rapid spread of the virus across and within the three countries,” he said.
Dr Sambo called on national leadership by Heads of State and government to facilitate an inter-sectoral interventions and coordination required to cope with the disease.
He said governments should organise cross boarder consultations to facilitate exchange of information and agree on joint collaborative activities as well as strengthen surveillance , case finding , reporting and contact tracing and to share information on EVD with WHO in a timely manner.
In March 2014 Guinea notified WHO about cases of Ebola virus Disease. The cases were initially confined to rural Guinea with the epicenter being Gueckedou.
What started as a rural outbreak has now spread to Conakry the capital of Guinea as well as cross border spread into Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The current Ebola outbreak has surpassed all other outbreaks in terms of cases, deaths and geographic spread across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In an effort to interrupt further spread of this virus in the shortest possible time, the WHO convened an Emergency Ministerial meeting in Accra, from July 2 -3, involving 11 countries mostly from West Africa and a number of key international partners involved in the Ebola outbreak response.
The aim of the meeting was to discuss how to contain the disease, share experiences and agree on a strategy for an accelerated operational response to bring an end to the outbreak.