On 12 November 12, 2014, UN Department of Public Information held a special briefing with UN Special Envoy on Eloba, Dr. David Nabarro. The briefing took place in ECOSOC Chamber, along with state members, NGO representatives, youth representatives, and other civil society groups. Focusing on UN’s first mission to handle Ebola crisis, Dr. Nabarro provided audience the insight of UNMEER.
In response to the unprecedented global Ebola outbreak, the United Nations set up the first-ever UN emergency health mission, UNMEER (UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response) to respond to immediate needs from fighting against Ebola. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Dr. David Nabarro as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, and Anthony Banbury as the operational direction of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
Under strategic guidance of David Nabarro and Anthony Banbury, “UNMEER will harness the capabilities and competencies of all germane UN actors under a unified operational structure to reinforce unity of purpose, effective ground-level leadership and operational direction, to ensure a rapid, effective, efficient and coherent response to the crisis.” (UNAI Newsletter, Nov. 2014) The mission of UNMEER is to stop the Ebola outbreak, treat the infected, and ensure essential health services by working with other groups.
During the special briefing, Dr. Nabarro expressed his concern about the global Ebola outbreak, He emphasized that it is very important to understand its cause, its roots, and the fear of the outbreak. “In my career, I have never dealt with any disease as challenging as this one. There is no certainty about what is happening.” He said.
Headquartered in Ghana, UNMEER team took immediate actions by deploying advanced teams in Liberia, Syria, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, where Ebola transmissions are still fierce, as well as in Ghana. Expanding the responsibility shows positive results. Besides UN’s efforts, governments, civil society groups, and individuals are all bringing up efforts to respond and maintain the capacity in the area of health care, food supply, and child protection.
Since the Ebola outbreak, there have been important changes in people’s behaviors. Dr. Nabarro suggested that everyone shows and commits to the solidarity that they will not discriminate individuals and countries. “We have dealt with HIV and now we must deal with it urgently,” he added. He encouraged tourists to go to these countries and business people to continue their business there. “There is no reason not to,” he claimed ardently.
In reacting to the fight against Ebola, NGOs and UNICEF are fully involved in helping children who are affected in a very effective manner. Even though Ebola is a hard problem to deal with, the media itself caused panic and fear at different levels. Dr. Nabarro suggested, with any new information about Ebola coming out, conversations and debates about this topic are encouraged. From exchanging ideas, people learn to embrace and deal with this issue.
Dr. Nabarro’s speech attracted numerous comments and questions. For dealing with Ebola at a personal level, Dr. Nabarro answered self-isolation and self-response are the keys. He asked people to be aware of their own health situation. If they developed symptoms, they need to isolate themselves from others, and use electronic devices to inform professionals and be put into treatments accordingly.
However, schools in the affected countries are used as temporary centers for EBOLA patients. Some children have lost at least one year of schooling because of this outbreak. “Education for children should be out on top of our agenda, and immediate actions are needed,” Dr. Nabarro commented.
He also brought us two exciting news. There will be vaccines available next year. Two important drugs are being developed, one in Japan and the other in elsewhere. It is essential to make sure that these experimental drugs are available in Africa. Dr. Nabarro has a vision that the Ebola outbreak could be brought under control by the end of this year, as long as international donors act quickly and generously.
For more information, please visit:
Global Ebola Response:
Dag Hammarskjold Library Research Guide on Ebola: http://research.un.org/en/ebola
UN Youth Representative for Foundation for the Support of the United Nations (FSUN)
Li Wang is the Deputy Chair of UN DPI Youth Representative Executive Board. She also serves as the UN Youth Representative for FSUN. She serves the mission of FSUN and empowers youth worldwide. She is passionate about sharing global youth perspectives with civil society in an effort to tackle pressing issues and forward the UN agenda.