UN bolsters Ebola response in rural West Africa
Efforts to beat back Ebola in West Africa are shifting from cities to rural areas where smaller treatment units are being built, the UN Ebola mission chief said Thursday.
United Nations: Efforts to beat back Ebola in West Africa are shifting from cities to rural areas where smaller treatment units are being built, the UN Ebola mission chief said Thursday.
"The problem is that the disease has spread so much geographically," said Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).
"We will not defeat this virus by chasing it. We need to have much greater geographic dispersal."
Smaller, more mobile treatment units are being deployed in remote areas of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to act quickly to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The world`s worst outbreak of Ebola has left around 5,100 dead and 14,000 seriously ill, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Recent data points to a slowing of the outbreak in Liberia, the worst-hit country, while the infection rate remains stable in Guinea, but Sierra Leone has seen a surge, mostly from rural areas.
UNMEER earlier this month said it was hoping to open 200 eight-bed care centers in the Sierra Leone countryside.
"We know we need to build more small centers. We know where we need to prioritize them, we know where we need to put diagnostic facilities, laboratories," said Banbury, who was in New York to report to the UN General Assembly.
"We do need more construction, more specialized expertise and we need more money to fund it all. We are getting there but we are not there yet."
The United Nations has set a goal of having 70 percent of the case isolated by December 1.
Ebola, transmitted through bodily fluids, leads to hemorrhagic fever and -- in an estimated 70 percent of cases in the current outbreak -- death.
There is no specific treatment regime and, as yet, no licensed vaccine -- although possible candidates are being tested in Mali and elsewhere.