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Travelling the last mile to zero Ebola cases in Liberia

In early December, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged the people of Liberia to travel the last mile to reduce Ebola cases to zero. That last mile will be very long and difficult, and can only be achieved when every county has the capacity to find and isolate all cases, trace all contacts and bury all who die from Ebola safely. Here is the story of 2 remote villages travelling that last mile.


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Health partners unite to build stronger systems for health in Ebola-affected countries

Ministers of Health and Finance of Ebola-affected countries, international organizations and development partners assembled for a high-level meeting on how to strengthen systems of health in Ebola-affected countries and agreed on what needs to be done to rebuild and strengthen essential health services in these countries.

"People in Ebola-affected countries are dying – not only from Ebola but also from other causes – because the majority of health facilities in these countries are either not functional or people are not using them for fear of contracting Ebola," says Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation, World Health Organization. "A health system has to be able to both absorb the shock of an emergency like Ebola, and continue to provide regular health services such as immunization and maternal and child care."

Participants of the meeting discussed the need to integrate all health services from clinical care to surveillance, health promotion, disease prevention and management, and palliative care.

Given the movement of people across borders of the Ebola-affected countries, it will also be important to coordinate national health plans across borders and align surveillance systems

Key areas for improvement

  • Significantly strengthening health workforce;
  • enhancing community trust, engagement, and ownership;
  • ensuring development of resilient sub-national health systems.

Participants determined that substantial external financing will be needed to address key areas for improvement. This should be coordinated under the leadership of the national governments and in accordance with national plans.

The meeting agreed that all sectors of government should be involved – notably health, finance and education.

Next steps

As next steps, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan, invited governments to convene meetings at the national level, with key partners, to develop country specific plans. These plans should clearly identify needs in terms of health workforce, infrastructure and materials, and how to further engage communities.
Note to editors:

Participants discussed the following principles to be used across all 3 Ebola-affected countries:

1. The joint work on building resilient health systems shall be based on a foundation of country ownership and leadership with a coordinated approach by all partners to address current needs and build systems for the future.
2. Efforts to build a resilient health system will be based on specific needs identified by the affected country and their communities.
3. The work in supporting countries will require long-term commitments from all key actors. The long-term gains associated with building a functional health systems will not be compromised for "quick wins".
4. Efforts around building resilient health systems in the countries will follow the principles of effective development cooperation and the International Health Partnership, including coordination under government leadership, alignment to national priorities and harmonization of (monetary and non-monetary) support among development partners.
5. Countries will be supported towards providing integrated health services, which will encompass disease surveillance, the management and delivery of quality and safe health services so that people receive a continuum of health promotion, prevention, diagnosis, management, rehabilitation and palliative care services, through the different levels and sites of care within the health system, and according to their needs throughout the life course.
6. Ongoing efforts to build capacities for the prevention, detection and response to public health events, as planned under the International Health Regulations will be scaled up. The lessons learnt during the current Ebola response will be used and surveillance of rare and severe events better integrated into the health systems, from communities to the central level.
7. A strong focus on accountability for results of both country governments and partners will underpin all efforts. An accountability framework will identify a core set of indicators for results and resources and explore opportunities to improve access to information.

WHO media contacts

Tarik Jasarevic
Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 50 99
Mobile: +41 79 367 62 14
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New study highlights need to scale up violence prevention efforts globally

The "Global status report on violence prevention 2014" reveals that 475 000 people were murdered in 2012, and homicide is the third leading cause of death globally for males aged 15–44 years, highlighting the urgent need for more decisive action to prevent violence.

Despite indications that homicide rates decreased by 16% globally between 2000 and 2012, violence remains widespread. Non-fatal acts of violence take a particular toll on women and children. One in four children has been physically abused; one in five girls has been sexually abused; and one in three women has been a victim of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence at some point in her lifetime.

Key findings

Jointly published today by WHO, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the report indicates that:

  • only one third of the 133 countries surveyed are implementing large-scale initiatives to prevent violence, such as bullying prevention programmes, visits by nurses to families at risk, and support to those who care for older people;
  • just over half the countries are fully enforcing a set of 12 laws generally acknowledged to prevent violence, although 80% of countries have enacted them;
  • only half of all countries have services in place to protect and support victims of violence.

The consequences of violence on physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health often last a lifetime. Violence also contributes to leading causes of death such as cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, because victims are at an increased risk of adopting behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, and unsafe sex.

“The consequences of violence on families and communities are profound, and can result in lifelong ill health for those affected,” states Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Yet we know what works to prevent violence in our homes, schools and workplaces and on our streets and playgrounds. We should take inspiration from governments which have demonstrated success in reducing violence by taking the steps needed. They have shown us that indeed violence is preventable.”

The "Global status report on violence prevention 2014" is the first report of its kind to assess national efforts to address interpersonal violence, namely child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner and sexual violence, and elder abuse. Individual country profiles reflect the extent to which key violence prevention programmes and laws and selected services for victims of violence are being implemented.

The report assessed the scale of implementation of 18 “best buy” violence prevention programmes. It shows, for example, that:

  • one half of countries are implementing school-based programmes to teach children and adolescents “life-skills” such as non-violent conflict resolution;
  • one half of countries are promoting efforts to change gender norms supportive of violence against women;
  • one third of countries are putting in place programmes to improve parenting in families at risk of violence;
  • less than one quarter of countries are developing public information campaigns to prevent elder abuse.

"High levels of family and community violence cripple both people’s ability to sustain their individual livelihoods, as well as a nation’s options for political, social, and economic development”, said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. "This report takes stock of the measures countries are taking to prevent and respond to interpersonal violence, but the report also reveals gaps in global violence prevention which must be filled, such as the quality and reach of prevention programmes, the access to services for victims, particularly for women and girls who are disproportionately affected by violence, and the enforcement of existing laws."

The report also reviewed 12 laws which are relevant for violence prevention. It shows, for example, that:

  • 98% of countries have laws against rape;
  • 87% of countries have laws against domestic violence;
  • 84% of countries have laws against carrying weapons in schools;
  • 40% of countries have laws against abuse in institutions for older people.

On average 80% of countries have enacted each of these 12 laws relevant for violence prevention. However, only just over half of countries report that these laws are fully enforced.

Laws protecting citizens against violent crime send a clear message to society about what is acceptable,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “With this Global status report on violence prevention 2014, we have a useful tool for identifying the gaps in legislation and enforcement in countries, which can help to indicate what further action, is needed to ensure reductions in violent crime.”

Providing care and support to victims of violence is important for reducing psychological trauma, helping victims heal, and preventing further involvement in violence. Despite strong evidence linking experiences of violence to mental health problems, under half of countries have mental health services to address victim needs, with only 15% of countries in Africa offering such services. Over two thirds of countries make available child protection services and medico-legal services for victims of sexual violence.

The "Global status report on violence prevention 2014" calls for a scaling up of violence prevention programmes in all countries; stronger legislation and enforcement of laws relevant for violence prevention; strengthened justice and security institutions to uphold the rule of law; and enhanced services for victims of violence. It also advocates for better and more effective use of data to inform violence prevention programming and to measure progress. The report is intended for use by governments to help identify gaps and encourage and guide actions and by nongovernmental organizations and experts to assist governments in their efforts.

For more information:

Laura Sminkey
Communications Officer
WHO Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention Telephone: +41 22 791 4547
Mobile: +41 79 249 3520
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fadéla Chaib
Communications Officer, WHO
Telephone: +41 22 791 3228
Mobile: +41 79 475 5556
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sangita Khadka
Communications Specialist
Media & Advocacy
BERA / Bureau for Policy and Programme Support
Telephone: +1 212 906 5043
Mobile: +1 917 530 8980
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Preeta Bannerjee
Public Information Officer
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Telephone: +43 1 26060 5764
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Department derives its mandate from the following laws:
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Healthy self reliant communities in the North West
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