It’s known since about one week now: UNMEER, the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, the first UN emergency health mission ever, will come to an end June 30th. UNMEER started on September 19th 2014 and it was clear from the beginning that it will be a short-term mission. However, as usual at the end of an emergency intervention there remains one question: What comes next?
The National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) will lose its most important supporter with UNMEER – also financially. That leaves the question how the countrywide Ebola response will be coordinated and continued. Even though Ebola is more or less under control in Sierra Leone by now, there are still about 1-2 new cases every day. Until end of June Sierra Leone will not become Ebola free, that’s for sure. 42 days have to pass without new cases before an area is officially declared Ebola free,
counting from the day the last patient was discharged or passed away. counting from the day of the last safe burial or second negative test (Thanks to @HaertlG, twitter). That means, NERC will have to find new support. But whom? And who will take the lead in the Ebola response? There is much to do in the rehabilitation phase, preventive measures have to be started and hygiene programmes initiated. There are different possibilities who could take the lead, e.g. the Ministry of Health or the Organisation of National Security (ONS). As an employee of a civil society organisation I do hope that the military will play no major role anymore.
On top of that, many donors are phasing out their programmes in June / July. After that it will be difficult for organisations like Welthungerhilfe to get funds for post-Ebola rehabilitation projects. If Sierra Leone will succeed in banning Ebola from the country in the long run will partly depend on the quality of projects that are initiated now.