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UN Security Council to meet over heightened Ebola response

September 18, 2014, 5:10 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
The meeting, called by the United States, will probably pass a draft resolution calling for coordinated international response to the deadly disease
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UNITED NATIONS, September 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The United Nations Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss the situation over the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The meeting, called by the United States, will probably pass a draft resolution calling for coordinated international response to the deadly disease.

The draft resolution, circulated on Tuesday by the U.S. delegation to the rest 14 council members, urges to lift unilateral travel and border restrictions on transport service with West African countries “that contribute to the further isolation of the affected countries and undermine their efforts to respond."

Earlier this week, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, president of the council for September, said that the session would be addressed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). On Tuesday, Ban told journalists he the Security Council meeting was expected to outline a global action plan to contain the Ebola threat.

The Secretary-General of the U.N. warned that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa had “gone beyond health issues” and could impact political stability of the region. “It has gone to the areas of affecting social and economic situations, it may even affect political stability if this is not properly contained and properly treated,” he said, adding that the scale of the crisis required global response.

The U.N. draft resolution on Ebola calls on countries to "provide urgent assistance, including deployable medical capabilities such as field hospitals with qualified and sufficient expertise, staff and supplies and laboratory services, logistical and construction support capabilities including for airlift, aeromedical services and dedicated clinical services in Ebola Treatment Units."

According to Samantha Power, the meeting will be open to all United Nations member states. She said she hoped they would come out with “concrete commitments” on how to contribute to the international anti-Ebola efforts. On Tuesday, the United States said it planned to send 3,000 military personnel to West Africa and open 17 Ebola treatment units there. Ban Ki-moon hailed this step and called on other countries to follow the lead.

The United Nations Security Council, a body responsible for ensuring peace and security, very rarely tackles of public health and passes resolutions on such matters. The last such occurrences were in 2000 and in 2001, when the Security Council adopted resolutions on HIV/AIDS.

In the meantime, analysts say the Ebola epidemic is emerging as a global threat which requires all-round attention. The outbreak started in West Africa in December 2013 and by now Ebola has spread across five countries, namely Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola has already killed nearly 2,500, with up to 5,000 being infected. The latter figure may reach 20,000 by the end of the year.

The World Health Organization describes Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) as “a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%.” Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The incubation period is 2 to 21 days. There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The only treatment offered is “supportive intensive care.” During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.

WHO said test results of two promising anti-Ebola vaccines would be ready by November 2014.

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