27 August 2014

Liberia: AfDB President Kaberuka and WHO Regional Director for Africa Sambo Visits Liberia, Renew Their Commitment to Fight the Ebola Virus Disease in the Sub-Region

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have renewed their commitment to working with Liberia in its fight against the ravaging Ebola virus disease now plaguing the sub-region.

According to an Executive Mansion release, speaking separately at a joint press conference in the Foyer of the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Louis Gomes Sambo and AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka said their visit to Liberia was a demonstration of their loyalty to the Government and people of Liberia in their effort to eradicate the Ebola virus disease.

As a demonstration of its support, the AfDB President Donald Kabaruka said his organization was providing a US$60 million grant to countries most affected by the epidemic as its financial intervention to the fight against Ebola virus disease which he believes if not curtailed would have a further negative impact on their economies.

The most affected countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and of recent Nigeria. The WHO will manage the funds.

The grant, according to AfDB President is intended to finance case management, treatment and capacity building of local staff in disease surveillance, contact tracing, among others in the Ebola fight.

"We are working closely with the Government of Liberia to ensure that Ebola is eliminated because there is an economic impact after the virus had been eliminated," Dr. Kaberuka noted.

He said the AfDB is seriously working with the Liberian Government in maintaining a stable economy which will include job creation, safe investment and settling the balance of payment situation currently faced by Liberia.

For the WHO, Mr. Sambo renewed his organization's earlier call that the situation in the region was a global health emergency and encouraged the international community to act as such in curtailing the virus.

He frowned at the cancellation of flights by airline companies which he said was seriously compromising the deployment of experts and logistics in the affected countries. "The current outbreak is mainly a public health problem that is already negatively impacting other aspects of social life and the economic performance of the country. We should do our best together to defeat this epidemic as soon as possible," Dr. Sambo stressed.

Dr. Sambo joined the AfDB President to call on concerned airlines to reconsider their decision as their action could just worsen the situation. "We are concerned about the travel ban on the affected countries and we would like to reiterate the WHO position that we don't endorse these bans as they compromise the management and other technological resources that are required to fight the epidemic and address other public health problem in these countries," Dr. Sambo further said.

Speaking earlier, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expressed gratitude to the two organizations for the level of solidarity demonstrated to Liberia since the outbreak of the Ebola virus. "This particular visit is as an extraordinary demonstration of support for Liberia and an expression of confidence in the future of our country," the Liberian leader told a well attended press conference.

President Sirleaf used the platform to appreciate African countries that have either intervened financially or through the lifting of travel and trade sanctions on Liberia.

She specifically named the Presidents of Côte d'Ivoire for lifting the shipping ban, Senegal for allowing SN Brussels to stopover from Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo for deploying Ebola experts to Liberia and Nigeria for its US$500,000 donated to the Liberian Government to help with the fight.

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