Ban kicks off tour of Ebola-hit west Africa

2014-12-19 14:45
Nurses wearing protective suits escorting a man infected with the Ebola virus to a hospital. (Zoom Dosso, AFP)

Nurses wearing protective suits escorting a man infected with the Ebola virus to a hospital. (Zoom Dosso, AFP)

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Monrovia - UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Liberia on Friday on the first stop of a visit to Ebola-ravaged west African countries for a first-hand assessment of global efforts to fight the epidemic.

Ban, who flew in from Ghana, where the UN Ebola mission is headquartered, was welcomed on arrival in Monrovia by Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai will full military honours.

Ban will also travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Mali, where the UN is leading the response to the health crisis.

In Liberia, Ban will meet President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as well as officials from the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response or Unmeer, and visit an Ebola centre run by the US military.

Ban's visit comes a year after the outbreak began in Guinea and follows sharp criticism from non-governmental organisations that UN agencies like the World Health Organization have been too slow to respond.

"United Nations will stand with the people in region until such time that we make sure that there is no such cases," Ban told Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama at a meeting late on Thursday in the capital Accra.

"We must think carefully about how to strengthen the healthcare systems of the countries in the region to withstand the future outbreak of infectious diseases," Mahama added.

Ban is accompanied by Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization, David Nabarro, the UN coordinator for the fight against Ebola and Umeer chief Anthony Banbury.

Last month, Ban had said that, with increased international mobilization, the outbreak could be brought under control in 2015

Ebola has killed more than 6 900 people, almost all of them in west Africa.

Liberia tops the number of fatalities at 3 290 deaths but Sierra Leone earlier this month overtook it as the country with the most infections.

Read more on:    un  |  ban ki-moon  |  liberia  |  ghana  |  ebola  |  west africa

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