“With end in sight, time to redouble efforts to stop Ebola” says UN Development Chief

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UNDP Administrator Helen Clark wraps up visit to Guinea with warning of long term impacts of outbreak

Speaking at a press conference today at the end of a two-day visit to Guinea, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark stressed the need to "go the last mile" in eradicating the outbreak in the country.

“The Ebola disease is not yet beaten,” she said. “All efforts at all levels of society must continue until the last case has been treated.”

Her remarks came at the end of the first leg of a mission to visit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three West African countries most affected by the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak.

Her visit included meetings with Guinean President Alpha Condé, Government Ministers, and a variety of representatives of civil society and community groups. She also met with with a group of survivors of the disease, many of whom had been stigmatized by their communities.

After hearing their harrowing testimonies of suffering from the disease only to go on to suffer alienation from their families and communities, she called Ebola survivors "heroes" who should be celebrated, not stigmatized.

Stressing the need for community engagement to stop the disease, she said the visit had provided an opportunity to see how UNDP’s work with the Government and people of Guinea was contributing to halting the spread of the disease.

“With policing in the community, youth, and women, all these networks are being mobilized to provide information to communities on how to stop Ebola.”

Looking to the future, she said that while the focus must remain very strongly on stopping the disease, there was now much evidence and analysis about the impact of Ebola on society, basic services and the economy.

"In the social sectors, the health system will need considerable strengthening to provide basic services and respond more quickly and effectively to any future outbreaks”, she said.

"Water and sanitation, so important for public heath, will also need our support. There are the needs of the many orphans who have lost parents to Ebola, as well as needs in the education sector where many children and young people have lost many many months of their education.”

Going forward, UNDP was committed to addressing these and other needs with the Government of Guinea and international partners.

With this in mind, galvanizing international support for the affected countries in the coming months would be crucial to help prevent or minimize potentially serious development setbacks in the wake of the disease.

"It is vitally important to invest in the stability of Guinea in a way that it can come back better from this crisis”, she concluded.

Helen Clark is due to arrive in Liberia today, and will conclude her mission with a visit to Sierra Leone next week.

For photos of the visit:: https://www.flickr.com/photos/unitednationsdevelopmentprogramme/sets/72157650768008355
For broadcast footage: Andrew.hein(at)undp(dot)org
For interview: dylan.lowthian(at)undp(dot)org tel

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