Freetown 23 July 2014 – The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Dr Luis Sambo continued his visit to the three West African Countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. On the second leg of his visit the Regional Director arrived in Sierra Leone on Tuesday 22 July 2014 to get more insight, review current outbreak response and challenges, and explore the best ways to rapidly contain the EVD outbreak in West Africa.
Dr Sambo held series of high level official meetings with the President of Sierra Leone H.E. Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, the Inter-ministerial Taskforce on Ebola comprising of strategic cabinet ministers, donor partners, Emergency Operation Centre and the United Nations Country Team respectively.
President Koroma during his meeting with Dr Sambo thanked WHO and the international community for their continued support prior and during the outbreak. He expressed concerns over the continued outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the country and called on WHO and partners to strengthen their support to contain the disease. Furthermore, he requested international support to train national staff to be deployed in the field noting that this is the first time the country is experiencing the Ebola outbreak.
Addressing the Head of State, Dr Sambo appreciated the President’s leadership and called for urgent government action to engage communities for behaviour change at household level to stop the emergence of new cases of infection. He also expressed concerns on the significant number of health workers that have been infected with Ebola and need for continued training and mentoring of staff especially on matters of infection prevention and control. The Regional Director assured the President of the commitment from the WHO Director General and staff to articulate the international partnership to contain the outbreak in Sierra Leone.
In his meeting with development partners including donors and UN agencies, Dr Sambo informed his audience about the challenges being experienced in controlling the on-going epidemic. He encouraged them to pool their resources to stop the transmission and “get the number of new infections to zero” he added. Responding to Dr Sambo, the partners pledged their commitment and suggested ways of improving the national response. Furthermore, they requested for the urgent finalization of the Accelerated National Ebola Response Plan.
Sierra Leone declared the confirmation of the first case of Ebola Virus Disease on the 25th of May 2014. As of 23rd July 2014 a total number of 427 cases have been confirmed positive for EVD and 144 confirmed deaths in seven districts. WHO continues to provide support to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone in all areas of the response.
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