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President Barack Obama greets Nina Pham, a Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola after caring for an infected patient in Texas, in the Oval Office, Oct. 24, 2014. Pham is virus-free after being treated at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Outgoing UN Team Head Says Ebola Outbreak Will End in 2015

A nurse works inside a room created for Ebola quarantine center (IANS)

A nurse works inside a room created for Ebola quarantine center (IANS)

Though 2014 was beset with Ebola-dominated scare in the US and West Africa, the UN team UNMEER engaged in fighting the disease is optimistic that the outbreak will end in 2015.

Anthony Banbury, the outgoing chief of the United Nations team fighting the virus in Wet Africa, said the deadly Ebola outbreak will be ended in 2015 though it was still a long and difficult way. “We are engaged in a big battle with this disease,” he said.

The Ebola outbreak was first detected in Guinea’s remote south-east in December 2013, and it has killed about 8,000 people so far in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The UN Ebola Emergency Response mission (UNMEER) was formed in September by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and Banbury headed the mission. “We have not come anywhere close to ending the crisis. We have done a lot in 90 days. It has been a very successful response effort but we have a long way to go,” admitted Banbury.

However, looking forward, he said, “We are engaged in a big battle with this disease that attacks people who shows acts of caring and kindness. It is going to be extremely hard for us to bring it down to zero, but that is what we will do. I believe we will end Ebola in 2015.”

The UN team faced its real test when there was a spike of the cases in Sierra Leone. The UNMEER was mandated to ensure at least 70% of all Ebola patients were treated in isolation in three months time and proper burial precautions were taken.

Banbury said the situation is better now with enough treatment centres in the region and he was optimistic that the target of 100% safe burials will be achieved by end of January 2015. A veteran UN official Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania will take over the charge of UNMEER now.

According to the World Health Organization, so far 20,000 people were affected by Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and about 8,000 of them succumbed to the virus.

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