Understanding the concern and anxiety of staff, the Secretary-General explained that the gravity of the outbreak has the full attention of the Organization. The Secretary-General reiterated that the Organization has an obligation to protect its personnel and that the health and safety of personnel is his top priority. In this regard, he emphasized that there are strict protocols in place to protect UN personnel.
The Secretary-General stated that the United Nations is working with Member States to ensure that if a colleague becomes infected, he/she will receive adequate Ebola treatment, firstly in the country where he /she serves, and as a last resort, through medical evacuation. The Secretary-General also stressed the need to stringently comply with mandatory pre and post-deployment requirements, including medical screenings, which have been put in place by the Organization and host countries.
The Special Envoy for Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro said, “This is not an operation that can be compared with any other we have been involved in.” He explained that we have to ensure that all our staff have what they need to respond to these extraordinary demands.
The Organization is taking all necessary safety and security arrangements for staff and other personnel on the ground. UN Medical Services (MSD) has been proactive in dealing with and supporting the UN response, in close cooperation with partner organizations. Plans with clear Standard Operating Procedures for EVD risk management are in place for UNHQ and Offices Away from Headquarters. These plans are being regularly updated to include new guidance and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and local public health authorities of our host countries.
The Director of MSD, Dr. Jillann Farmer, emphasized that “You cannot catch the disease from a person with no symptoms”. Clinical and psychosocial support is available to personnel and family members of personnel travelling to Ebola affected countries.
Urgent efforts are underway to ensure that, when deemed necessary, medical evacuation to international treatment facilities will be available to all UN personnel regardless of who they work for or what function they are performing. While this is not yet fully in place, a range of Member States and the European Union are working collaboratively with the United Nations to arrive at a solution in the immediate future.
Since this an exceptional situation, prompt administrative procedures, special measures and guidelines have been swiftly established to support staff deploying to, working in or returning from Ebola-affected locations.
During the town hall meeting, senior officials also declared that there will be zero tolerance for stigma and discrimination of personnel returning from Ebola affected countries.
As situation is quickly evolving, staff can access up-to-date information available on the UN's Emergency Preparedness and Support Team (EPST) website which serves as the gateway for staff and families to access Ebola-related advisories, updates and information, with a dedicated "Ebola Alert" section.
Ebola Update on the HR Portal