The latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus could be contained by 2015 if the response for the disease is improved, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General said Friday, at a meeting with officials from the World Health Organization, or WHO in Washington. He also added that Mali, where six people have died so far due to the disease, has become the latest area of concern.
Ban added that the organisation was also looking to send a U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response to Mali, where nearly 500 people are under surveillance for the virus. However, he added that the international community's efforts to curb the disease have not been sufficient.
Ban also said that the emergence of new cases of the disease was slowing down in parts of West Africa, but still the response to the outbreak still needs to be accelerated. WHO chief Margaret Chan is also set to travel to Mali on Saturday to assess how the spread of the virus and further outbreaks could be curbed.
“We need more international responders -- trained medical teams and volunteer health workers -- especially in remote districts,” Ban said, according to a statement released by the U.N. Friday, adding: "I appeal to the international community to stay engaged."
Ban added that the containment of the disease by 2015 would only be possible if the response to the disease is increased, adding that the U.N. "will scale up our response until the very last case of Ebola is identified and treated."
"Our end game is not near. We must get to zero cases. Ebola is not a disease where you can leave a few cases and say you've done enough," Ban said, according to BBC.
David Nabarro, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, estimated that $1.5 billion in funding is needed to help end the outbreak, which has claimed over 5,000 lives so far. The disease has also affected more than 15,000 people, mostly in West Africa, where Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have become some countries worst-affected by the virus.
“Much has been committed, but there is a shortfall of over $600 million,” Nabarro, said in the statement, adding: “We must remain vigilant and persevere with a flexible and well-adapted response.”