WHO meeting tackles Ebola response measures, needs

The World Health Organization (WHO) released notes from a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 14-16 to discuss the impact of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa and measures to prevent future outbreaks.

In light of this outbreak, 14 African countries have been designated as high priorities for medical missions to strengthen their health care systems. Weaknesses in national and regional health systems were highlighted with the number of Ebola cases and fatalities.

The current outbreak began with the first case in December 2013. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 22,999 cases and 9,253 fatalities across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as of Friday. Over the course of the three-day meeting, common themes included Preparedness Strengthening Teams' (PST) missions to different countries in the region. These teams highlighted the need for resources for the health systems and governments, including guidance and implementation of procedures that allow for national and international cooperation.

Funding for Ebola preparedness is critically important for these countries. Equipment concerns were also a key issue, with topics including protective equipment, communication devices, infrastructure (running water and electricity et al) and ambulances, which are crucial for effectiveness in treatment, the summary said. PST personnel also indicated the need for training and exchanges of information among countries. In considering these themes, WHO listed ongoing steps that will need to be taken involving the supply of equipment and the funding needs to procure improved resources and equipment.

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