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On September 18, the UN Security has unanimously passed a resolution, co-sponsored by 131(!) governments, calling the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone a “threat to international peace and security” and asking countries world-wide for urgent medical personnel and supplies to contain the outbreak.

UN and WHO have waited nine months after the first case had been registered in Guinea at the end of 2013, before alarming the world community on the new outbreak of Ebola, an extremely contagious disease, in three small West African countries.

The UN Secretary General has estimated that $ 1 billion would be necessary to keep the number of cases within the tens of thousands, compared to slightly less than 6000 until now. The US government has pledged to send 3000 military to help the countries contain the disease.

Whatever the outcry and despair, the countries struck by the Ebola epidemics should be able to handle it domestically, if urgently provided with basic medical equipment and hospitals for separating infected patients.

The neighbouring countries – Senegal, Ivory Coast and Nigeria – have been almost completely spared, thanks to their better medical infrastructure and the early closure of their borders. A separate outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been contained by local efforts. Outside Africa there is practically no risk of contagion, let alone epidemics.

The alarm call by the UN Security Council has been belated and excessive. One wonders why it addresses regional health issues falling within the responsibility of the WHO.

With the necessary oversight, advice and assistance from the WHO and organisations like “Doctors without Borders” the three affected West African countries should be able to contain their epidemics without any risk for world peace.

There are far more serious and long-term threats to world peace and security that the UN should address , including climate change.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 21/9/2004

 

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