Oxfam reaction to UN assessment that deadline to bring the Ebola outbreak under control by December 1st will not be met

Africa, Campaigns and Advocacy, Emergencies, General, Media Releases, News article written on the 26 Nov 2014

International aid agency Oxfam today said the international response to Ebola must continue at full speed after the UN announced that the December 1 deadline to bring the outbreak of the deadly disease under control will not be met.

Oxfam said the UN announcement was a wake-up call to the urgent need to accelerate the international response to the deadly outbreak.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said it was critical that all Governments, including Australia, increased their efforts to ensure all the personnel, funding and equipment necessary to effectively contain the outbreak were on the ground as soon as possible.

“The UN’s candid assessment of progress in the fight against Ebola is an urgent wake-up call, and governments need to act and act now,” Dr Szoke said.

A clear and public plan of action from the UN and governments is needed to respond to the changing nature of the outbreak. This will enable the humanitarian community to effectively marshal its resources to overcome Ebola.

“The response must continue full speed with a focus on treating patients but also on stopping the spread of Ebola.

“Supporting communities to prevent and act quickly upon new infections is critical.  We know from our work in Sierra Leone that a better balance is needed between prevention, containment and treatment in order to bring the outbreak under control.

Dr Szoke said in addition to more support for treatment of existing cases, Oxfam calls on affected country governments, donor governments, and UN agencies to ensure:

  • Increased prioritization and funding to help communities prevent and respond to Ebola cases, making sure that people know about Ebola, how to protect themselves, what to do if symptoms arise, and where they can go for both Ebola and non-Ebola medical needs;
  • Improved coordination and sharing of response data, information and activities of government and responding organizations on the ground;
  • More support for quarantined communities in Sierra Leone to ensure they have the basic support needed including food, water and access to healthcare;
  • Gender disaggregated data is gathered, to make sure the different needs of men and women are clear and can be properly addressed in the response.

“Ebola is a symptom of weaknesses in health systems that predate the current crisis. This needs to be seriously addressed by long-term commitments and actions by affected country governments and the international community,” Dr Szoke said.

What Oxfam is doing

Oxfam is helping prevent the spread of Ebola both by working with communities to prevent further infections and supporting medical facilities with water, sanitation, cleaning equipment and protective clothing. So far our preventative work has directly reached over 860,000 people in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

For interviews or more information, please contact Angus Hohenboken on +61 428 367 318 or angush@oxfam.org.au