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West Africa: UNFPA supports efforts to contain Ebola in the region

Accra, Ghana. On 10 October, UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa Mr. Benoit Kalasa and the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye met with H.E. President John Dramani Mahama to discuss the UN support in the fight against the Ebola Viral Disease (EVD).

At the end of September, the United Nations stepped up its effort to end the epidemic, by establishing the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), a single structure that will aim to stop the spread of the disease and prevent it from appearing in unaffected countries, as well as treat and care for the infected.

Both commended the president for his leadership role in responding to the Ebola crisis, demonstrated in his offer for Ghana to host UNMEER and also through prioritizing the fight against Ebola in ECOWAS, of which he currently serves as the Chairman.

UNFPA has estimated that more than 600,000 women in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will give birth during the next 12 months. In addition, more than 1 million women who were using modern contraception can no longer receive these services.

Although the focus is to curb the outbreak, UNFPA understands that health services to the non-infected population especially pregnant and lactating women and girls should continue. And because the health services are collapsing, there is an urgent need to do more and quickly for them.

UNFPA is actively assisting in training contact tracers in affected countries, gathering and analyzing data on affected population and is supplying emergency reproductive health kits, including clean delivery kits, to pregnant women who cannot get to clinics; drugs and equipment are also brought to health facilities, midwives and communities. These kits contain the medical supplies required to manage safe deliveries and to address possible complications."We need to support governments of the region in the development of preparedness and prevention plans against Ebola not only in the main cities but also at a local level. That is the reason why the United Nations are implemented a coordinated answer with UNMEER”, said Mr. Kalasa.

President Mahama also expressed his appreciation to the UN system in Ghana for the support to the Government and the people of Ghana toward the progress the country is making in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

Prior to meeting with the President of Ghana, Mr. Kalasa and Mr. Dieye met with Mr. Tony Banbury, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UNMEER to discuss his perspectives of his just ended visits to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The meeting also discussed how UNDP, the UN Country Teams and the Regional Director’s Team can support the UNMEER in implementing its mandate

UNFPA is the leading UN Agency in addressing population and development issues, with an emphasis on reproductive health and gender equality.