With the fight against the deadly Ebola virus entering its final lap in Guinea and Liberia, the United Nations and United States President Barack Obama have cautioned the African nations against getting complacent. The UN head of the Ebola fighting force, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, hailed Guinea for its robust surveillance program which tracks down and controls the spread of Ebola virus in the country. Guinea recently declared a health crisis and called for emergency action for 45 days in the southwest and western regions of the nation.
Over 10,000 people have died in nine different African nations since the epidemic of Ebola broke out in Guinea in December 2013. The total number of people infected with the Ebola virus in Africa is more than 24,000. Most of the deaths have occurred in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that on behalf of the UN and the international community, he welcomed the brave decision taken by Guinea. However, he did mention that although Guinea had made extraordinary efforts to fight against the spread of the virus, and the positive results were encouraging, the nation and its health officials must remain vigilant.
In the month of January 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared for the first time that the epidemic was declining and getting under control. The three countries had recorded a steady drop in new cases being reported. The fear of complacency setting in among the health officials in these countries is what is bothering the UN medical staff, after fresh cases have been reported in Guinea and the nations that have been worst affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
Liberia has also shown significantly improved results in the fight against the Ebola virus. It has not reported a single fresh case for 26 days. It has also been 18 days since the last safe burial of a patient who succumbed to Ebola. Sierra Leone is struggling to contain the outbreaks, even though the country is also showing signs entering the final lap of the fight. U.S. President Barack Obama and the UN have asked the leaders of these countries to make sure that complacency does not set in and to work towards completely defeating and eradicating the virus.
President Obama declared and assured the leaders of the three worst-hit nations in Africa of continued assistance and support from the U.S. He said this during a meeting to assess the progress and future plan of action at the White House on Wednesday, April 15. President Obama also acknowledged the fact that as per the latest numbers that came in last week, there were less than 40 cases of Ebola in Liberia. This is the lowest reported number of patients affected with Ebola virus in the country for over a year.
Guinea and Liberia are now on the recovery path. The countries are getting help from the international community for rebuilding their economies, which collapsed due to the outbreak of the deadly virus. The EU and the international community has also come forward and pledged their support to the countries in their recovery efforts. Though these commitments have come as a huge relief for the African nations, President Obama and the UN have warned the nations against letting their guard down, even as the fight against Ebola enters its final lap, as the struggle to eradicate the deadly disease has now entered a critical stage.
By Ankur Sinha