One month after being declared free of Ebola Virus transmission by the World Health Organization, Liberia is still celebrating cautiously.
Liberians and Ebola response workers alike continue to advocate and exercise vigilance, as the virus remains active in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to a press release from the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in Monrovia, copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Wednesday.
“With Liberia we have reached a milestone,” says Peter Graaff, Acting Special Representative and Head of UNMEER. “This is exciting progress, and certainly we congratulate Liberia on its hard work, but we cannot forget that the country remains at risk.”
In the week to 7 June, Guinea and Sierra Leone registered a total of 31 new confirmed Ebola cases.
“The threat to the region remains so long as there is one single case of Ebola in any country,” says Graaff. “That is why we, and all of our Ebola response partners, are on the ground every day, working with communities to bring an end to the disease.”
At a meeting on 5 June in Pamelap, Guinea, UNMEER joined the Heads of State of both Guinea and Sierra Leone to discuss increased cross-border cooperation in a new push to achieve zero cases.
Pointing to the example of Liberia, which was declared free of Ebola Virus transmission by the World Health Organization on 9 May, Graaff stressed that the key to success lies with communities.
“Strengthened community ownership is key to ending this outbreak,” he said. “Communities are our front-line workers in the fight against Ebola.”
Meanwhile, UNMEER continues its transition and handover of capacity to national authorities, as well as UN agencies, funds and programmes. After the successful handover and closure of its office in Liberia on 31 May, UNMEER is working on the transition of its office in Sierra Leone and Guinea on 30 June and 31 July, respectively.
Created to last until the virus stopped posing a significant threat to international security, UNMEER has been a catalyst in boosting national and international response capacity in the fight against Ebola.
“Now that national and international capacities have increased we have started our winding down process,” says Graaff. “We are putting in place measures needed to ensure that Ebola prevention and response activities will keep going strong until we reach zero cases. The UN family is committed to seeing this fight through to the end, even once UNMEER leaves.” GNA