Banjul, the Gambia - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has provided over 105,000 US Dollars to support the Gambia’s efforts to build a strong and robust surveillance system to detect cross-border infections and to help people, communities and the state swiftly stamp out outbreaks.
Porous borders and the regular movement of people make the threat of Ebola real for the country, which does not border the hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, but isn’t far away.
As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark wrapped up her visit to the three countries hardest-hit by Ebola, she called on the international community and partners to double their efforts to stamp out the disease.
“The Ebola disease is not yet beaten,” she said. “All efforts at all levels of society must continue until the last case has been treated.”
Since the beginning of the Ebola epidemic, cases have been reported in Senegal, Mali and Nigeria, but these countries deployed massive efforts to end the disease, locating active cases, tracing contacts and raising awareness among communities. All three are now officially Ebola-free.
UNDP supported actions in the Gambia are part of a broad package of support to the country’s national Ebola preparedness and response plan. A national command centre under the Ministry of Health and committees for each action-area are up and running.
Health workers and border personnel have been trained in detecting and dealing with outbreaks and are posted at key entry points. Local and traditional leaders have been roped in to help spread the word, and religious leaders are talking about Ebola in mosques and churches.
Through UNDP support, a number of education materials have also been created and shared to support the outreach effort in communities across the country. UNDP has also given technical advice to the national Ebola command centre. “The Gambia is heavily dependent on tourism and is not far from the frontline. Having a single case here could be devastating. That is why we decided to mobilize and support the authorities at the earliest in their efforts to prevent any outbreak. Today, the Gambia is Ebola free, an important factor to boost stability and development in the country,” said Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in the Gambia.
Preventing future outbreaks of Ebola or other diseases is vital in securing a full recovery for the region.
Tasked by the UN Secretary-General to the lead the UN system's recovery efforts, UNDP is committed to working with all Ebola-affected countries as they recover in a way that is consistent with the Government and people’s own longer term development aspirations.
UNDP’s recovery programmes in the worst affected countries are focused on four pillars: economic opportunities and jobs; recovery of the health sector; resilient governance for recovery, peace and stability; and risk management to deal with any future outbreaks.
An upcoming meeting in Brussels will aim to maintain international solidarity around achieving zero Ebola cases and to consider the support needed to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recover from the crisis.
Nicolas Douillet, Communication Specialist, UNDP Africa. Tel: +1.212.906.5937 firstname.lastname@example.org