Westport resident heads UN effort to fight Ebola


While Ebola, the deadly epidemic that has stolen and is threatening many lives, is a worldwide quandary, Westport’s own Anthony Banbury, father of James ’16 and Sawyer ’18, is leading the United Nations’ mission to fight Ebola in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone Africa.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ebola is a rare and deadly disease that is caused by infection with one of the virus strains. Symptoms “may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure” and are most commonly a high fever, severe headache and muscle pain and weakness.

The UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) is the first ever UN emergency health mission, and “is being set up in response to the unprecedented outbreak,” according to its official website.

Banbury’s role as the “UN’s disaster ‘go-to guy’” according to James, has caused him to relocate to Ghana, where he will be fulfilling the role of Deputy Ebola Coordinator and Operation Crisis Manager, “traveling around Africa until December and possibly longer,” James said.

His main order for the mission is to “organize everything and make sure that everything goes in the right place,” according to James.

James also explains how his father worked on the UN’s effort to provide Haiti with relief from the earthquake, and thus his job is “getting the relief where it needs to be.”

“He said it’s the hardest job he’s ever had,” James said.

Claire Sampson ’15 sees the importance of the UN’s emergency health mission in that the epidemic “needs the help of multiple nations” to minimize the spread of Ebola.

Within all the hype, something that sticks with James is his father saying that “for most disasters, there is a fixed amount of problems, so the more relief that comes in it, the more the problem decreases. But now, the victims are doubling every day and the relief is increasing but not fast enough, so the problem is still bigger than the relief.”

However, though the epidemic is “the largest in history” according to the CDC, James feels that the U.S. “has a really strong containment operation” and believes that his father’s work will help lessen the outbreaks in third world countries.

“The problem is that Africa is simply not well-equipped to stop this epidemic, and with a continuing epidemic we run the risk of it spreading to other countries,” Sampson said. “They need money and workers to help with Ebola and there’s no way Africa can do it alone.”