Containing the Ebola OutbreakIn addressing the progress made in containing the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) argues that, since July 2014, “unparalleled progress has been made in establishing systems and tools that allowed rapid response.”

From the first report of this outbreak on Mar. 23, 2014, this disease became a devastating epidemic, which led to nearly 25,000 cases and more than 10,000 deaths. Most of the deaths occurred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to the U.N. Foundation blog, “the past year of battling Ebola has exposed troubling weakness, both in the health systems of the affected countries and in the international community’s ability to respond to the health crises of this nature.”

However, this period has also shown the world both the power and potential of a coordinated, global response. WHO and its partners are now in phase three of the Ebola response, from August 2015 to mid-year 2016.

At the climax of the Ebola outbreak, it is reported that more than 800 new cases of Ebola were being reported on a weekly basis. However, in the past year, the number of reported cases has fallen in countries like Liberia — the country that has seen more Ebola deaths than any other nation.

On the ground level, WHO continues to deploy technical experts in the three most affected countries and engage not only in response but in early recovery and survivor support efforts.

A collaboration between WHO and the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) has led to about 4,000 technical experts as well as Ebola vaccination teams being deployed on the ground in more than 70 field sites in the three most affected countries.

Furthermore, WHO highlights that 45 laboratories have been installed since the start of the Ebola outbreak with WHO and the Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network (EDPLN) supporting 29 of them. All of these laboratories have tested more than 200,000 patient samples.

The Ebola outbreak has shaken the world and caused many deaths. However, thanks to the diligence, dedication and support from volunteers, medical teams, scientists, researchers and many others who have made fighting this epidemic a mission, much progress has been made in containing the Ebola outbreak.

Vanessa Awanyo

Sources: WHO, UN Foundation Blog
Photo: Flickr

WHO Announces Campaign to Honor Global Health Workers
A new campaign is aimed at honoring global health workers for their efforts and sacrifices.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the online campaign, #ThanksHealthHero, on Aug. 14, five days ahead of World Humanitarian Day.

The movement will focus attention on global health workers who face ongoing and growing threats on the frontlines, as well as draw in messages of thanks via social media.

According to WHO, 603 global health workers were killed and 958 injured in 2014 as a result of 372 attacks in 32 different countries.

In Yemen, 190 health facilities have become non-functional and 183 partially functional due to ongoing conflict in the country. Twenty-six facilities have been attacked since May.

Additionally, five global health workers were killed and 14 injured in the country in an attack in June.

Front line services have also been affected in Iraq, with 180 seeing operations suspended. As a result, millions of refugees, internally displaced persons, and host communities are without health care.

The campaign is also communicating the need to strengthen protection for global health workers. As a result of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, 875 workers have been infected, 509 of who have died from the infection

Overall, WHO assists and supports more than 60 million people in 32 global emergencies. The U.N. agency and its partner organizations need $1.7 billion for medical supplies, equipment, and additional global health workers, but there is currently a lack of funding.

By itself, WHO requires more than $530 million but has received less than 30 percent of that total.

The campaign will hopefully not only highlight the efforts and sacrifices of global health workers but also stress the critical need for more funding to address humanitarian crises all around the world.

Matt Wotus

Sources: United Nations, WHO
Photo: Flickr