Ban Ki-moon has announced UN plans to fight Ebola. The virus currently has no cure or vaccine and has claimed 1,013 lives and infected a further 1,848 people since the latest outbreak's first death in March.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made Dr. David Nabarro the UN's Ebola coordinator Tuesday, entrusting the British physician with a strategy to combat the current outbreak of the virus. Nabarro has led previous UN efforts to combat infectious diseases, including SARS.
"We need to avoid panic and fear," Ban told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday. "Ebola can be prevented. With resources, knowledge, early action and will, people can survive the disease. Ebola has been successfully brought under control elsewhere and we can do it here too."
Ebola was first diagnosed four decades ago and has been described as one of the world's 10 deadliest viruses. The current outbreak began in Guinea and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Ban said Africa needed doctors, nurses and equipment, including protective clothing and isolation tents, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 1,000 people have died in the three countries.
"We need all hands on deck," Ban said on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the UN's World Health Organization declared that ethical judgment "must guide the provision" of experimental drugs during outbreaks and that companies and governments had a "moral obligation to collect and share all data generated." The WHO's panel comprised medical experts from around the world who took part in teleconference to work out draft guidelines for using non-authorized medicines in emergencies such as Ebola.
"In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention," the WHO announced in a statement on Tuesday.
A Spanish priest who had just begun taking an experimental drug became the first European to succumb to the virus this year when he died on Tuesday. Two US missionaries infected in Liberia have managed to hang on, and even recover some, in a hospital in the state of Georgia, where they, too, are taking the drug.
The US maker of ZMapp has announced that it has sent all of its available supply of the treatment at no cost to west Africa, without naming any countries specifically. The United States has confirmed that some doses went to Liberia.
"We have complied with every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal/regulatory authorization," Mapp Biopharmaceuticals reported in a statement.
mkg/sb (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)