New Democrat (Monrovia)

14 July 2014

West Africa: Ebola Tops ECOWAS Agenda

Photo: Liberia Government
President Sirleaf consoles a health worker at the Redemption Hospital as they mourn the death of their colleague, Esther Kesselee, who died of Ebola.

Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are meeting in Accra, Ghana with President John Mahama calling on colleague to, as a matter of urgency, pull resources together to fight the Ebola virus.

The deadly virus has claimed the lives of about 500 people in three West African countries; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in less than six months.

Speaking at the opening of the 45th ordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Accra, President Mahama said there is an urgent need for adequate resources "to speed up the containment effort."

The Ebola outbreak has infected 759 people and about 467 of them have been killed. This thus, has compelled the West African sub-region leaders to collectively put measures in place to contain the situation.

Other agendas on the table will be the proposal of security where all ECOWAS citizens will be issued a biometric ID card which will in turn, stop process of resident permit requirements for all members.

The leaders will also deliberate on the current political situation in Mali and Guinea Bissau. The focus will be on the evolution of conflict and the implementation of national warnings and alert systems.

Also among the leaders of the 15 member states attending the meeting are Presidents of Mauritania, Cameroon and Chad as well as the President of the African Union Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

He challenged medical research institutions in the sub-region to find a cure or vaccines to the disease.

President Mahama, who is also the ECOWAS chairman, mentioned that West African countries and health practitioners and organizations "must scale up our efforts and power to defeat this deadly disease."

He called for extreme vigilance and caution while avoiding any panic or misinformation which could further endanger the lives of citizens.

President Mahama commended the World Health Organization (WHO), doctors without borders, other relevant international organizations and health practitioners within West Africa for "the efforts they have made to try to contain spread of the disease."

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