Ebola fight has coordination problem, says new UN mission chief

Ebola fight has coordination problem, says new UN mission chief

MONROVIA, Liberia - The three west African countries worst hit by the Ebola epidemic should be leading the response against the killer virus, the UN's new mission chief on the disease said Wednesday, condemning "a problem of coordination" in the fightback.

"The governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the ones who are driving... this is about their people, this is about the fate of their countries, we should acknowledge that national leadership," said Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the new head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

"There is a problem of coordination," he said on his first visit to Monrovia, warning of "too many cooks in the kitchen" with good intentions.

The Ebola crisis has claimed 8,235 lives over the past year, almost all of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Liberia, long the hardest-hit country, has however seen a steep drop in new infections in recent weeks.

But Ahmed warned "there is still a lot to be done in order to declare Liberia Ebola free".

"It is always in this moment of optimism that you can see some degree of complacency," he said.

In Sierra Leone, which has overtaken Liberia as the country with the most infections, authorities on Wednesday announced another door-to-door campaign in the west of the country to raise awareness of the haemorrhagic fever.

The country's chief medical officer Brima Kargbo told AFP that a similar campaign over two weeks in December had been a success, leading to 266 new Ebola cases being discovered.

In Guinea meanwhile, Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou and his counterpart from Benin, Thomas Yayi Boni, carried out a joint visit to show their "solidarity" with the nation where the outbreak began in December 2013.

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