WFP offers new hope in fight against Ebola

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This plane is bound for Sierra Leone with World Food Programme (WFP) equipment to tackle the Ebola outbreak. Photo: WFP

UN Ebola experts said Wednesday that the killer disease could be stopped in its tracks by the middle of the year as they announced that they're to join forces with the World Food Programme (WFP).

The partnership is a first between World Health Organization (WHO) and WFP in Ebola-affected countries.

The aim is that health workers will have more time to focus on tracing and treating people who continue to be infected by Ebola, potentially setting a precedent for future joint missions.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Ebola coordinator Dr Bruce Aylward said at the moment time is lost simply looking for petrol or an internet connection.

"With WFP I think we're going to now have a much more solid ability to get right down to the local level and get people full time on the issue of contact tracing, case-finding work….so it should be possible to stop transmission by the middle of the year."

From now on, the UN food agency plans to deliver an unbroken supply of personal hygiene kits and other essential aid to health-workers on the front line in the three worst affected west African countries.

WHO's Dr Aylward said that the latest death toll showed 9,976 fatalities in all countries affected by the disease.

Ebola is found primarily in Sierra Leone (11,619 cases), Liberia (9,343) and Guinea (3,285).

Liberia hasn't had a case for two weeks, Dr Aylward said, while Sierra Leone and Guinea continue to register around 50 cases every seven days.

Driving Ebola out of urban areas has proved possible but major challenges remain and these will require $400 million in funding to keep the effort on track until June, WHO says.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1'05"

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