WHO calls for building resilient health systems in Ebola-affected countries

December 12, 2014 9:50 am 

GENEVA, Dec 11 — The World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners on Wednesday convened a high-level meeting to discuss building resilient health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which struggled following the latest Ebola outbreaks.

"The three hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, are among the poorest in the world. All three have only recently emerged from years of civil war and conflict that left health infrastructures badly damaged or destroyed," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in the opening remarks.

She said the index case triggering this outbreak was a young boy who died of Ebola in Guinea on Dec. 28, 2013. However, from that single case, the virus spread, undetected, for more than three months, in multiple chains of transmission involving urban as well as rural areas.

"By the time Ebola was identified as the causative agent, on March 21 this year, the virus was firmly entrenched in Guinea. This is what can happen in the absence of a well-functioning health system," she said.

For rebuilding resilient health systems, she said the three countries needed to upgrade hospital facilities, ensure primary health care access to homes and increase the capacity to detect and respond to new or emerging infectious diseases.

The two-day meeting was convened by the WHO, the African Development Bank, the West African Health Organization and the World Bank. It aims to identify pragmatic solutions and needed investments to ensure that health systems will be better prepared to cope and sustain core services with future crises. (PNA/Xinhua)

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