13 April 2017

West Africa: Ecowas Ministers Want 'Special Attention' On Post-Ebola Era

Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank
Liberian health professionals provided most of the care for patients - often without adequate protection - and have been essential to rebuilding a ravaged health system.

A two-day ECOWAS Ministers of Health meeting has adopted a five-count resolution that would allow Member States to pay special attention to the necessary interventions required for post Ebola national health reconstruction.

The resolution also calls for the necessary support for all the Member States of the community, in particular, countries which were most affected by the Ebola virus disease - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the ministers' recommendations came at the close of a Three-day Regional and Targeted Actions of countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), especially those most affected by Ebola Virus Disease outbreak.

The regional meeting was aimed at preventing future outbreak of such infectious diseases in the region.

The West African Health Ministers called for active support to all regional strategies and interventions that fall within the priority goal of building capacities in the region and in the country for the early prevention, detection and control of epidemics by paying keen attention to "One Health Approach."

They also want governments and partners to substantially maintain and increase their financial contributions of the respective states to the ECOWAS Regional Solidarity Funds.

The ministers are urging member states to work resolutely toward steady increase in the national budget of their states earmarked for health in accordance with the "Abuja Declaration" adopted at the OAU Summit of Heads of States of and Governments on HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and other related infectious disease, held in Abuja, Nigeria in April, 2001.

In remarks at the closing ceremony, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called on member States of the West African Health Organizations (WAHO) to find a way as to how medical experts can combat, control and prevent the disease in case our future outbreak.

The Liberian leader noted that the outbreak has taught leaders and citizens of the region lessons, ranging from individual to community engagement, strengthening of community and national health facilities.

Referring to health statistics, President Sirleaf said the Ebola Virus Disease also took the lives of at least 11,300, while 17,000 suspected cases were identified.

She paid tribute to the role of Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé who was appointed by ECOWAS as Regional Coordinator for Ebola Response and Eradication tasked with mobilizing assistance from Member States in the region, the African Union, the World Health Organizations among others.

She hoped that the deliberations would help the sub-region in combating, controlling and preventing infectious diseases.

Speaking earlier, WAHO Director General Dr. Xavier Crispin welcomed the dignitaries and said the presence of Presidents Sirleaf and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé as well as Special Envoys of Presidents Alpha Conde and Ernest Bai Koroma of Guinea and Sierra Leone respectively was a demonstration of commitment to free the region of infectious diseases.

The ceremony was attended by high-profile guests, including the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alan Du Souza; Dr. Abubakar Fofana, Minister of Health and Special Representative of President Ernest Bai Koroma; Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations; Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay of the Liberian House of Representatives; Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Mustapha Cisse Lo; Ambassador Abdoulaye Dore, Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps and Liberia's Health Minister, Dr. Bernice Dahn, among others.

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