Photo: UNDP Sierra Leone/A. K. Bah
Photo: UNDP Sierra Leone/A. K. Bah

At the beginning of December, the United Nations reached the 60-day mark since it launched its expanded response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The UN had set an important goal referred to in short-hand as 70-70-60: 70 percent of burials being done safely and 70 percent of new cases receiving proper treatment at a facility, within 60 days. This week, the UN announced encouraging news about progress made toward achieving the 70-70-60 goal:

  • Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have met and even exceeded the target for safely burying the decease.
  • Liberia and Guinea have met the target for isolating patients with the disease.
  • Some parts of Sierra Leone have met the second target, but others have not.

As Anthony Banbury, Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), said during a press conference, “The global response has successfully turned the crisis around.” Yet, he also noted that the fight against Ebola is ongoing and more resources are needed to finish the job, saying, “We’re far away from being out of the woods. …Going forward, we need to get down to zero [cases].”

Over the next 60 days, UNMEER will focus on a district-by-district strategy for the 62 districts in the three most affected countries. This strategy will emphasize tailored interventions for every district, which are appropriate to the specific context and circumstances. Banbury expressed confidence that the three countries will be in much better condition 60 days from now.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General for the World Health Organization, held a separate press conference, where he echoed many of the same messages. He underscored the fact that, while the 70-70-60 milestone is important, the ultimate goal has to be 100 percent safe burials and 100 percent isolation of new cases. This is the only way to eventually achieve zero new cases of Ebola. “Very definitely you can catch up with Ebola, even on this scale. That is a very important message,” Aylward said.

Read the full press release from the UN here.