WHO establishes operations center to combat Ebola outbreak in West Africa

In response to the growing outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa, the World Health Organization has opened a new facility in Guinea to serve as an operations headquarters for health officials to coordinate response to the outbreak.

"The center will allow monitoring in real-time of the activities to fight the epidemic, in collaboration with the national committees and the teams deployed on the ground," Luis Gomes Sambo, the WHO regional director for Africa, said, according to a WHO press release.

The center, which will be based in Conakry, Guinea, was requested by health ministers from 11 African countries during an emergency WHO meeting earlier this month.

Benido Impouma, a WHO epidemiologist and technical coordinator of the new center, said the facility will allow health workers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to address the challenges in coordination, communication, cross-border collaboration and treatment of infected populations.

"Finding and treating all Ebola patients and then tracing and observing the close contacts of these persons over a period of 21 days to ensure they have not been infected is a key to halting transmission," Impouma said. "This can be only done with full community participation."

The center will be responsible for ensuring the effective use of limited and highly critical resources based on prioritization and common objectives. Coordinative efforts will support field operations in "hot spots" across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

As of July 12, the number of cases of Ebola across the three countries include 964, with 603 deaths-an approximate mortality rate of 63 percent. The outbreak is the first major Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.