Zee Media Bureau
Accra (Ghana): As the ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa has become more dangerous and with new cases being reported in other parts of the world, the United Nations (UN) has called for global efforts to fight the deadly disease.
Anthony Banbury, chief of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) said an international effort is needed to keep a check on the outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa as it poses a big threat to the world.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there could be 1.4 million cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia by Jan 20, 2015.
“No single state can stop this outbreak. We need an international effort,” Banbury said while addressing reporters in Accra.
Following international airlines' refusal to enter the three Ebola-affected West African countries - Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the UN has decided to start an emergency mission here to support air-lifting of drugs and logistics to these nations.
Banbury said: “The air-bridge established in Accra is vital to stop the spread of Ebola virus.”
“The situation created by Ebola is very grave. It is more than just a public health crisis, it has become a multi-dimensional crisis with serious risks affecting the health, economic, political, humanitarian spheres, adding that the rate of infection is growing exponentially with the total number of cases doubling every three weeks.”
Meanwhile, Oxfam, an international aid agency is planning to triple its Ebola prevention programme in Sierra Leone and said at least £10 million is required to help 2.5 million people who are at risk of catching the virus.
The aid agency has already helped over half a million people by providing water supply at treatment and isolation centres apart from hand wash facilities, hygiene kits, supply of personal protective clothing and training for health workers.
It has also been running awareness campaigns about how people can best protect themselves from getting the virus.
“The need to check its (Ebola) spread is the absolute key. Infection rates are accelerating and we have no option but to rapidly increase our work,” said Oxfam regional head David MacDonald said.
He also said that Ebola is consuming entire communities and that many areas have been changed into quarantine and the streets are completely deserted.
The aid agency is calling for a concerted international effort to stop the spread of Ebola virus and also for military logistical support.
Guinea was the first country to report an Ebola outbreak early this year and since then it has spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal.
The UN said it needs about $1 billion to stop its spread and so far only $345 million has been received.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 3,000 lives while affecting over 6,500 people so far.
(With IANS Inputs)