In 1976, the Ebola virus (named after the Ebola River in Zaire) first emerged in Sudan and Zaire with the first outbreak of Ebola (Ebola-Sudan) infected over 284 people. The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 25 percent and 90 percent of those infected with the virus. In March 2014 a major Ebola outbreak in Guinea, a western African nation was reported, the disease then rapidly spread to the neighboring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. It is the largest Ebola outbreak ever documented, and the first recorded in that particular region.
The article for discussion titled “In the Race against Time Member States Must Increase Efforts to Stop Ebola Outbreak” illustrates the unpreparedness of the global community, inclusive of its international organizations, for the Ebola 2014 outbreak. ‘The Ebola outbreak is winning the race against attempts to contain it’, ‘Ebola got a head-start on us’ and ‘Time is our biggest enemy’ were some of the sentiments expressed by the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Anthony Bradbury’s briefing to a fifteen – nation council, highlighting the lack of risk prevention and risk mitigative measures in place to deal with this global pandemic.
However the crux of the article dealt with the need for global cooperation and increased humanitarian aid efforts towards preventing unavoidable deaths. Bradbury has claimed that the UNMEER has been playing the critical role of crisis manager, ultimately ensuring that “no gaps were left unfilled and that resources were allocated appropriately”, “emphasizing that failure was inconceivable” and “unacceptable”. The focus of the UN is not now just to prevent and mitigate the outcomes of the virus but also to deal with “devastating psychological effects of the virus”.
The outbreak has ignited fear, panic and encouraged stigmatism towards the survivors, which would need to be dealt with in an efficient and humanitarian way. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an arm of the UN, the creation of the UNMEER is an unprecedented response to an unpredicted crisis. As at September 2014, the virus has sickened over 5,500 persons and killed 2,500. The WHO has cautioned that the number of deceased will likely double every three weeks. The WHO Director- General to the UN Security Council, Dr. Margaret Chen identifies the outbreaks as not only a public health crisis, but also “…a social crisis, a humanitarian crisis, an economic crisis and a threat to national security. ”
The UNMEER is a temporary, pioneering emergency UN health mission that will respond to the immediate needs related to the fight against Ebola. It aims at rapid action, partnership and unifying expertise across the globe. Though the first case of Ebola was recorded in March 2014 in West Africa, the creation and launch of this mission, coinciding with the first confirmed Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States in September 2014. In addition, international collaborations with other international organizations, countries and non-governmental organizations, the UN has taken to social media outlets suchas Twitte r, Facebook, and Instagram have been utilized to edify the general public as to the precautionary measures, statistics and relief efforts.
UNICEF in particular acknowledges the support from Canada, the European Union, Department for International Development (DFID), Japan, the Paul Allen Foundation, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank. Other global responders to the virus include Medecins San Frontiers (MSF) otherwise known as Doctors without Borders, who was the first group to respond to the viral inferno 2.