Ebola-hit African countries move into early recovery after 'dramatic progress' – WHO chief

April 17, 2015 10:13 am 

WASHINGTON, April 17 — World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Margaret Chan on Thursday hailed the "dramatic progress" the Ebola-stricken West African countries have made in the fight against the deadly disease, saying she is "looking for ways" to help them move into an early recovery phase.

Chan told reporters in a press conference in Washington D.C. that the main goal of early recovery work is "to help people and their communities return to a normal life again," which means "children are going back to school, women can once again shop in their local markets, and livelihoods are restored."

She said an important part of getting back to normal is rebuilding essential health systems and services in these countries, which collapsed due to the Ebola outbreak as well as years of conflict and civil unrest.

"We must urgently invest in strengthening the health systems," she said.

The WHO chief described such health systems as covering essential primary care services close to homes and having a surveillance system to detect early problems and issue an early warning.

"And most importantly, we do need enough healthcare workers, doctors, nurses and technicians to run the laboratories. We have learned from the Ebola outbreak that we do not have enough manpower in these countries," she added.

According to the WHO, 37 confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa last week, the lowest number in nearly a year. The figure included 28 cases in Guinea and nine cases in Sierra Leone. Liberia reported no new Ebola cases.

Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General and the WHO special representative for the Ebola response, expressed "strong confidence" that Liberia is "very close to stopping their transmission" and that Sierra Leone has been going in the right direction, but said the situation in Guinea is "a little more mixed," reflecting "a bumpy road."

The clear message is that there is no room for complacency. (PNA/Xinhua)

FFC/EBP

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