Conakry (Guinea), July 26 (IANS/WAM) The World Health Organisation (WHO) has opened a Sub-regional Outbreak Coordination Centre in here after continuing reports of new cases and deaths attributable to Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
"The centre will allow monitoring in real-time of the activities to fight the epidemic, in collaboration with the national committees and the teams deployed on the ground," said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Luis Gomes Sambo.
As of July 12, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the three countries stands at 964, including 603 deaths, said WHO on its website Friday.
"The centre will act as a platform to consolidate and harmonize the technical support being provided to West African countries affected by the outbreak. It will also help to mobilize resources for the response," said Francis Kasolo, director for disease prevention and control for the WHO African Region.
"Alongside national health authorities and WHO, other partner agencies involved in the Ebola response, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Red Cross, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and technical partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), will also work from the Centre."
The establishment of the centre was sought by health ministers from 11 African countries at an emergency meeting convened by the WHO in Accra, Ghana, in a meeting July 2-3.
The Accra meeting identified critical challenges and gaps in the response: coordination, communications, cross-border collaboration, treatment of patients, contact tracing and community participation, human resources and financial support.
"Addressing these challenges in the three countries will be far more efficient through a single coordination mechanism," said Benido Impouma, WHO epidemiologist and the technical coordinator of the new Centre.
"Finding and treating all Ebola patients and then tracing and observing the close contacts of these persons over a period of 21 days to ensure they have not been infected is a key to halting transmission. This can be only done with full community participation," he added.