In Guinea, UNMEER Chief joins communities to say ‘Ebola is enough’
With the rainy season fast approaching, Ebola response partners are in a new push to bring cases down to zero in the most affected countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone. This week, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed visited the border areas between Sierra Leone and Guinea to help draw attention to the urgency of additional measures.
At the District Ebola Response Centre in Kambia, Sierra Leone residents highlighted the continued practice of unsafe burials and the risk of exposure from the high volume of people moving between Guinea and Sierra Leone (roughly 10,000 per week). To this end, Ould Cheikh Ahmed praised the recent agreement for improved information sharing and planning at the border region.
“The situation in Kambia is clearly improving and there is an encouraging story to tell on how they have strengthened social mobilization,” he said. “There is also good cooperation between agencies, such as a strengthening partnership between WHO and UNICEF in Kambia. The innovations to enhance cross-border cooperation are particularly noteworthy.”
From Kambia, Ould Cheikh Ahmed travelled to Kindia, Guinea, for a new campaign called “Ebola Ça Suffit” (Ebola is Enough), which involves community leaders, elected officials, youth, women and religious leaders targeting communities in the coastal area of the country, where there are still Ebola cases.
"This is about reinforcing messaging to end community practices that spread Ebola and challenging complacency and poor adherence to protocols,” said Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
In a recent declaration by Guinea President Alpha Condé, new measures have been introduced covering a 45-day span to contain the outbreak in the five most affected areas, including Conakry, Boffa, Coyah, Dubreka and Forecariah. These include the temporary closure of hospital and clinic wards where Ebola cases are reported, systematic safe burials and testing of corpses, as well as funeral ceremonies restricted to the family.
Speaking to the media at UNMEER offices in Conakry, Ould Cheikh Ahmed praised the country’s efforts to date and emphasized the international community’s commitment to Guinea, but noted that it was at a critical stage in its Ebola response, with heavy rains anticipated to begin in May.
“We must do it before the rainy season,” he said. “It’s within our reach. It’s important to realize that Guinea is capable.”