Ebola: December 1 target for response may not be met in some areas of West Africa, UN reports

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said oday that while Ebola response targets for December 1 in West Africa may be reached in many places, they may not be met in some areas, and confirmed two new cases in Mali amid ramped up efforts to reduce the likelihood that additional cases will be imported from neighbouring Guinea. “The identification of patient contacts for daily monitoring has reportedly reached 99 per cent,” WHO said. “Based on experiences in Senegal and Nigeria, this achievement could augur well for rapid containment of Mali’s outbreak.” Senegal and Nigeria, which had been affected, are now Ebola-free.

“Most of these patients had symptom onset in early to mid-November, indicating ongoing chains of transmission,” WHO said in a press release that confirmed the two additional cases that brings to eight the total number of reported cases in Mali.

“With WHO support, staff from Mali’s Ministry of Health will be meeting with health officials from Guinea to discuss cross-border measures for coordinating control efforts and reducing the likelihood that additional cases will be imported from Guinea into Mali,” the UN health agency said.

The United Nations, as part of its intensified support to both the preparedness and response efforts of the Malian Government, will be opening on Wednesday an office of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in Bamako, the capital. UNMEERs’ Guinea office, meanwhile, reported that community reticence in many areas remains the main obstacle to contact tracing. Ebola is spreading in the north up to the border with Mali, an area with no functioning treatment centres or transit centres.

In response to a question at the UN press briefing in Geneva, WHO Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the December 1 targets for treatment and burials and set by his organization in its response to Ebola would likely be reached in many places, but not in others. UNMEER head Anthony Banbury had said in media interviews that the mission is already exceeding its 1 December targets in some areas, but that it is almost certain the targets will not be reached in all areas.

The targets are the so-called “70-70-60 plan” which aims to try to get 70 per cent of the cases isolated and treated, and 70 per cent of the deceased safely buried within 60 days from the beginning of October to 1 December. UNMEER also reported that 150 health workers from the West African countries of from Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Nigeria will be trained in Accra, Ghana this week to help tackle Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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