Helen Clark: Statement at the High-Level Meeting on Response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak

Sep 25, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Chair of the UN Development Group

at the
High-Level Meeting on Response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak
United Nations, New York

We have heard today about the magnitude of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It is a formidable public health crisis which threatens to reverse development and peace-building gains in the most-affected countries and in the region.

A response with the scope, scale and speed needed for this complex emergency, with its political, and social, economic security dimensions, requires urgent and co-ordinated global action. This was the core message of the historic resolution co-sponsored by 134 Member States and unanimously adopted by the Security Council on 18 September.

Ebola’s socio-economic impact is being felt nationwide in the affected countries and across all segments of society. It is also being felt across the region. A recent World Bank study predicts reduced economic growth in the affected countries of between 2.1 and 3.4 percentage points of GDP in 2014, and up to almost twelve per cent for 2015 in a “High Ebola Scenario” in Liberia. The effect of the epidemic is being felt mostly in  key sectors of the productive economy - in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and in services. Ebola’s disproportionate impact on women also has economic implications. It is important to be developing now socio-economic recovery strategies.

The Secretary-General has called for concerted and co-ordinated international action to combat the spread of the Ebola crisis, under the leadership of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response whose job it is to mobilize the necessary commitments and direct them to where they are most needed.

UN Country Teams have significant assets and a long standing presence in the most affected countries and beyond. Deploying these assets will be a vital part of the country, regional and global response to Ebola called for by the Security Council.

It is critical that the UN works as one to support the most-affected countries to translate resources received into an effective response. This includes using the United Nations Resident Co-ordinator's Country Team leader and co-ordination roles to support responses at the country level which engage all agencies with the capacity to help. The United Nations Development Group’s regional directors team is also closely engaged in supporting Country Teams and assessing the regional impact and how to address it.

Respective UN Country Teams are supporting Ebola response plans in second tier countries where some cases have emerged, and where there is a need to intensify strategic support to governments so they can be ready and able to respond quickly.

For those countries with no reported cases yet which are concerned about their vulnerability to Ebola,  UN Country Teams are supporting contingency planning capacities of  their national counterparts, using the lessons learnt from the Avian Flu/H1N1 experience.

Funding and support is needed to ramp up existing development system capacity on the ground in the most-affected countries. In turn, we seek to build capacity for nationally led responses, and to strengthen the capacities of national institutions which are under great pressure in the face of Ebola.

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