UN chief assures support to Sierra Leone Ebola fight

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has assured the government and people of Sierra Leone of the UN`s commitment to help Sierra Leone`s fight against the Ebola disease.

IANS| Last Updated: Dec 20, 2014, 18:07 PM IST

Freetown: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has assured the government and people of Sierra Leone of the UN`s commitment to help Sierra Leone`s fight against the Ebola disease.

Addressing a press conference Friday during his assessment visit to get first hand knowledge of the impact of the virus, Ban welcomed the government operation "Western Area Surge" as a means of putting a halt to the transmission chain, Xinhua reported.

He said he was happy with the command centre, which was well structured and organised and the Hastings Treatment Centre where he was impressed with one of the survivors who had contracted the disease but was now healed and has become a care giver.

Ban called on his audience to "address the virus based on facts" and scientifically with the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which he described as the "authority".

He maintained that the UN stood with the country through its challenging times and would continue "to be with you until this virus is put under control and wiped out of the country".

He observed that the country, under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma, has made significant progress in some parts but was quick to acknowledge that there were still challenges and the disease posed a big risk to every Sierra Leonean.

"All must take the ownership in the fight", Ban emphasised, stressing that "zero cases must be the goal of all".

President Koroma recalled the visit of Ban Ki-moon in March during which he commended the country for "revamping the country from war to development". He however stated that Ebola has reversed all the economic gains the country had achieved and has had a "very devastating impact on the country`s economy".

He enumerated the progress made so far, noting that with the support of the international community the country has increased its capacity to fight the disease.

The head of state informed his visitors that he had to take full responsibility in launching a very rigorous social mobilisation exercise by visiting every part of the country addressing paramount chiefs, religious leaders, the civil society and all strata of the community with the Ebola message.

President Koroma was optimistic that with the commitment of the people and the support of the international community, "Ebola will be a thing of the past".