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UN health agency names new Ebola response chief

3 February 2015 23:29

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed its assistant director general to coordinate the overall response to the deadly outbreak of Ebola virus plaguing West African countries.

The UN health agency’s spokeswoman, Fadela Chaib, told a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that WHO Director General Margaret Chan has “appointed Dr. Bruce Aylward as the Special Representative for the Ebola Response with immediate effect.”

Aylward, a Canadian national, has been tasked with coordinating all the different aspects of the agency´s response to the devastating epidemic, said the official.

Chaib added that the new WHO representative will closely work with international organizations and the three worst-hit West African states, namely Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, to help control the spread of the Ebola outbreak.

Meanwhile, sources say the WHO plans to set up an independent commission to assess the agency’s response to the epidemic. The assessment commission is expected to present an interim report in May and conduct a full review of the agency’s handling of the endemic.

The developments come as the UN agency has faced blistering criticism that its response has been slow and shoddy.

The United Nations has recently warned that the spread of the deadly Ebola virus is not fully controlled yet despite a significant fall in the number of new cases across West Africa.

Ebola is a form of hemorrhagic fever, whose symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding. The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces, or sweat. It can be also spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

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