While this latest news from Liberia is extremely encouraging, we cannot afford to be complacent. Despite declining numbers, the recent situation reports continue to warn that the steep decline in the number of cases from December to the end of January has halted. Transmission remains widespread. There are still more than 51 new cases a week in Guinea and 81 new cases in Sierra Leone. Just a single new case is enough to reignite an outbreak.
The situation is still urgent enough for the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to take time to visit the United States to urge the world to maintain its assistance and aid to her country. “We can neither rest, nor lift our foot off the gas,” she said, stating that Ebola must “be chased down in every corner” and eliminated.
Governments, humanitarian organisations and the general public need to continue to be vigilant in order to get the number of cases down to zero.
Unicef and partners are continuing to work in West Africa to boost recovery and strengthen preparedness and prevention against the disease. We are working to make sure the intensity of the response can be sustained. Raising awareness of the disease, maintaining safe burials of highly contagious bodies, and supporting the health services of the countries affected are our top priorities.
The outbreak has not ended in any country until it has ended in every country. The only way to stop Ebola is at its source and to treat every last case. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Nobody can afford to drop their guard. The last mile may well be the hardest. Let us therefore act resolutely and with unity of purpose to end this cruel outbreak and support recovery.”
So while it may not be appearing in the headlines, Ebola is still a top humanitarian priority. We need your help to fight this epidemic and get the number of Ebola cases to zero.
All photos Unicef/2015/Perret