This support complements the efforts of national

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region in recovering from it. This support complements the efforts of national governments, non-state actors and regional organizations to stamp out the disease. Each of the United Nations agencies involved in the preparation of the report has contributed its own research and reporting, which has been enriched by recent recovery assessments conducted by the UN and other partners. This is the first report to carry out an assessment of the EVD for each of the 15 West African countries, as well as the first to provide in-depth evidence of the impact of EVD on poverty and food security on the region. The fight against Ebola in West Africa is showing the limitations of national containment responses, especially when several outbreaks are taking place in contiguous countries at the same time. Health systems in West Africa exhibit similar weaknesses to the ones in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the factors that aided the spread of the disease in the epicentre countries are also present in the wider sub-region. These include the free movement of goods and people across countries, close ties among border towns, low levels of education, and limited internal capacity to respond to the outbreak. Tackling Ebola in such circumstances requires cross-border contact tracing, the creation of joint treatment and other actions to complement national efforts. Since no country is immune from Ebola, the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should serve as a warning and a call to action for the wider region. This report calls for combined national and regional preventive and early response mechanisms for West Africa. The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the longest, largest, deadliest, and the most complex ever witnessed. As of 11 February 2015, there were 22,859 EVD cases and 9,162 cumulative deaths: this is more than ten times the total numbers of infected people and over six times the total number of deaths from all previous outbreaks combined. Unlike past occurrences, which affected remote locations, the current outbreak is geographically spread out, involving both countryside and cities, and occurring simultaneously in different areas and countries. Several factors complicate the containment of the pandemic. The health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and in most other countries in the region were unprepared for the Ebola outbreak, lacking trained personnel, equipment and financing. Impoverished rural areas have specifically suffered, because they have more limited access to services than relatively well-off urban areas. This inequitable distribution of human and financial resources has hampered the response to the epidemic. Ignorance, lack of preparedness and fear have also played an important role. Health professionals have misdiagnosed EVD cases because the early symptoms of the disease resemble those of malaria, cholera and Lassa fever. Many people have denied the existence of Ebola or believe it was spread by the government to raise international funds that they will never see. All these factors have caused the virus to spread silently. Fear spreads as fast and wide as a virus. Due to fear of infection,
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  • Fall '19
  • West Africa

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