The UN’s emergency Ebola response headquarters in Ghana’s capital, Accra, is to close as the outbreak slows.The head of the mission, Peter Graaff, met the Ghanaian president to thank the country for hosting the agency since it was set up in September last year.
A small team will stay until the end of June to co-ordinate air operations, the agency, known as Unmeer, said.
Ghana has not been affected by the epidemic in West Africa, which has killed more than 11,000 people.
The AmiraNews Africa health correspondent Anne Soy says the mission set up its headquarters in Accra as it was far enough away from the affected countries, where there was logistical lockdown, but close enough the epicentre of the outbreak.
“By allowing us to set up our headquarter in Accra, President [John ] Mahama demonstrated extraordinary leadership and solidarity,” Mr Graaff said in a statement.
“He made Ghana the only open gateway to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone thus allowing the movement of thousands of Ebola responders and medical and essential supplies when they were most needed.”
As a result, Unmeer said Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone now had the necessary response capabilities in place to efficiently test, treat and isolate Ebola patients.
President Mahama said the downsizing of Unmeer was a sign of success for “short and sharp interventions”.
Most of the mission’s staff and assets have been moved to Sierra Leone and Guinea, where 24 new cases of Ebola were reported in the last week.
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia free of Ebola as the country had had no new cases in 42 days.
Ebola virus disease (EVD)
- Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
- Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
- Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of between 54% and 62%
- Incubation period is two to 21 days
- No proven vaccine or cure
- Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
- Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host