The man leading a team of the newly established UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Anthony Banbury says Ghana will only serve as a nerve centre in efforts to stop the spread of the deadly virus to other countries.
“We will have a small headquarters here in Accra with senior officials and operational people trying to find ways to best support the main operations of UNMEER in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. That is where our main activities will be”, Mr Banbury told journalists in Accra Tuesday.
UNMEER arrived in Ghana Monday to spearhead operations that aimed at ensuring efficient and rapid strategy to stop the Ebola outbreak.
UNMEER health officials will treat infected people, reinforce essential services and take the necessary action to ensure the disease does not spread to countries that have not recorded a case.
“When that job is accomplished, this mission will close down and the sooner that happens the better”, UNMEER team leader said.
There have been widespread speculations among Ghanaians about possible repercussions of the setting up of a UN Ebola mission’s command centre in the country. But Anthony Banbury said the country will not be at risk with their presence.
Instead, he was confident UNMEER station in Ghana will be of benefit to the country.
Other sceptics have also sited administrative and infrastructural challenges in the country as the source of their apprehension over UNMEER’s base in Ghana, however, the mission sees a different picture.
“Normally when UN missions are established in a country it reflects some problems in the country that need to be met. This [UNMEER] is a unique mission and its headquarters here is a reflection of just the opposite”, Anthony Banbury said.
He expressed satisfaction with Ghana’s transportation and health systems, describing the country as “hospitable and well-functioning”.
“We will be delivering vehicles, helicopters and motor cycles and building Ebola treatment units and working with the national governments in the countries concerned”, he Banbury said.
UNMEER was established last week after the unanimous adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 69/1 to provide a platform for wide-ranging international efforts to put an end to the spread of the disease.
According to United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ebola could potentially infect 1.4 million people within West Africa and beyond by end of January 2015.
UNMEER’s leader explained the mission will leave nothing to chance in achieving its mandate, and urged governments, aid agencies, health workers as well as other stakeholders to come on board to stop the disease from spreading.
“The UN mission now has just one job: to stop the spread of Ebola. To prevent it from spreading”, he reiterated.
Anthony Banbury was not sure when the mission’s job will end, but he was hopeful of a 90-day duration.
“It is an extremely ambitious target but we hope to achieve it”, he said.
Latest on Ebola
More than 3,000 people have died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the World Health Organization said, as the deadly virus continues to spread in the region.
In an update, the United Nations health agency said 3,091 people had died of confirmed, suspected or probable cases of Ebola. A total of 6,574 cases have been reported.
The disease remains concentrated in three countries—Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone—which accounted for 3,083 of the deaths, according to data the WHO collected in September 23, 2014.
The WHO said four deaths were reported in the Liberian border district of Grand Kru, the first time the virus had been reported there. It also spread to the Kindia district in Guinea.
No new cases were reported in Nigeria or Senegal, two countries where the Ebola virus has been confirmed.
The WHO called exposure of health-care workers to the Ebola virus, which causes high fever and internal bleeding, “an alarming feature of this outbreak.” As of Sept. 23, 211 health-care workers had died from the Ebola virus, the WHO said.