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Special Edition: Ebola

The latest news and updates on the United Nations’ response to the Ebola epidemic

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Author Picture By - Apr 03, 2015

Screenshot 2015-04-03 10.31.02

An 8-year-old girl, who has symptoms of measles, waits as a health worker prepares to take a sample of her blood for testing. Photo: WHO/C. Black


“These are all big demands of communities and responders and it’s very intrusive and difficult stuff.” – Dr. David Nabarro, UN Special Envoy for Ebola

Week of March 30, 2015

  1. Ebola upsurge could undo progress in blink of an eye
Despite the massive push to bring the number of new Ebola cases down to zero as quickly as possible, “flare-ups”  of the disease could reverse the overall downward trend and prove difficult to contain, the UN’s special envoy for Ebola has warned. Dr. David Nabarro said this week that the huge medical, administrative and logistical operation to fight the disease — including more than 700 World Health Organization (WHO) staff working in West Africa — could still be set back by individuals in affected communities ignoring official advice. However, the numbers appear to be moving in the right direction (see below for details).  Read the full story here.
  2. First detected case of Ebola transmitted through sexual intercourse
    Earlier research suggested that three months of abstinence or condom use among male survivors would suffice to prevent the transmission of Ebola through intercourse. But an Ebola patient in Liberia who died last week had just one known risk factor: her boyfriend was an Ebola survivor, treated last September. This is the first case detected of the Ebola virus being transmitted through sexual intercourse, which has necessitated updated recommendations. Read the full story here.
  3. United States boosts new Ebola drug
    The U.S. government says it will help develop a new Ebola drug — one of five drugs that are being tested against the deadly virus. This specific drug is made by North Carolina-based BioCryst Pharmaceuticals.  “BioCryst’s drug, BCX4430, is a small molecule that prevents the Ebola virus from reproducing in the body,” the Health and Human Services Department said in a statement. “Small molecule” means it can be taken as a pill. Read the full story here.
  4. Ebola cases top 25,000
    As of Tuesday, the outbreak, which has persisted for more than a year, has infected 25,178 people and has killed 10,445. A total of 82 new confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported this week, a slight increase compared with 79 cases the previous week. Cases in Sierra Leone have continued to decline in the past month and Liberia has reported no new cases this week. 
    Read the latest situation report here.
  5. Secretary-General appoints high-level panel on global response to health crises
    The Secretary-General today has announced the appointment of a High-level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises. The Panel will be tasked with making recommendations to strengthen national and international systems to prevent and manage future health crises, taking into account lessons learned from the response to the Ebola outbreak. In carrying out its work, the Panel will undertake a wide range of consultations, including with representatives from the affected countries and communities, the UN system, multilateral and bilateral financial institutions and regional development banks, NGOs, countries supporting the response effort, other Member States, health care providers, academic and research institutions, the private sector, and other experts. Read the full announcement here.