Outgoing head of UN Ebola mission sums up progress in ‘big battle’ with outbreak

Accra, 2  January 2015 – Delivering his final press conference as head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury today pointed to significant progress in tackling the outbreak since he was appointed in September last year, while stressing that zero cases is the only acceptable outcome in the “big battle” with the disease.

“It’s important to remember where we were when we started,” Mr. Banbury told journalists in Accra, Ghana, where the Mission is headquartered. “At the time, there were predictions of up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by the start of the year…Here we are in January and we have a total of around 20,000 cases instead of 1.4 million. That’s 1.4 per cent of what was being projected as a possibility by credible scientists back in September.” Read further.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has arrived in Accra to continue from where Mr. Banbury left.

Speaking with UNMEER staff at a town hall meeting today, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed praised their achievements but also noted the challenges in battling the deadly outbreak.

“This is a global crisis. We definitely have a difficult time ahead of us, but we can achieve it,” Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said. “We have no plan B, we have to get rid of this virus. This is within our reach, but we should not be complacent.”

“We need to keep going until we don’t have even one case, because even one case is too many,” he said. “The work ahead remains very hard but we really have no other choice.”

Ould Cheikh Ahmed will be visiting Liberia and Sierra Leone next week, then Guinea shortly after, to reinforce UNMEER’s strategic priorities and see first-hand the Ebola response. He will be accompanied by UN Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro.