Leaders Warned Not to Lower Guards on Ebola

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Joe Pemagbi

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Panelists in a discussion programme organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Abuja advises governments in West Africa not to lower their guards on Ebola

PANELISTS in a debate organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES, in Abuja, on Tuesday, April 28, urged governments in West African countries to improve health governance by scaling up investments in health infrastructure and human capital. This will ensure proactive responses against pandemics such as Ebola.

The panelists at the debate on “Ebola; one year after,” also explained that such investments would engender effective preventive and preparedness initiatives and also address the weak health systems of countries in the region, which suffered the heaviest burden of the latest Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, outbreak.

After a prolonged human and economic devastation, the outbreak has tapered off, but not after claiming some10,000 lives from the more than 25,000 reported cases, with three ECOWAS member states – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – as the worst affected.

At the peak of the outbreak, Sierra Leone, which has recorded some 3,000 deaths including 221 health workers, from 8,000 cases, was reporting close to 60 new cases daily compared to about 15 cases a week recently.

One of the panelists, Joe Pemagbi, Sierra Leone country officer, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, said the country of some six million people, which requires some 3,300 medical doctors, has less than 400 available.

The panel of discussants, which included Daniel Eklu, ECOWAS director of Humanitarian Affairs, Gadiry Diallo, coordinator, West African Human Rights Defenders Network, and Joseph Seka, general practitioner, ministry of environment, Cote d’Ivoire, insisted that West African governments and the populations should not lower their guards in the fight against Ebola.

Klaus Peter Treydte
Treydte

In particular, they recommended that public education and sensitisation as well as community mobilisation, participation and vigilance must be sustained until the disease is totally eliminated. There should also be effective psycho-social support and reintegration programmes for survivors, and children orphaned by the disease.

On external support for the affected countries, ECOWAS representatives on the panel, informed the gathering that the regional organisation, was supporting the countries from the Special Regional Ebola Fund set up by regional leaders. ECOWAS has also made a strong case for the cancellation of external debts owned by the Ebola affected countries.

In addition, the panelists called for improvement in public and personal hygiene and the strong participation of civil society organisations and the academia in the fight against Ebola.

They also stressed the need for accountability and transparency, both on the part of donors/partners and recipients of assistance, to ensure that financial and technical supports are prudently utilized.

In his introductory remarks, Klaus Peter Treydte, FES regional coordinator, said the interactive debate was the second in the series following the maiden edition on October 16, 2014, as a contribution in raising awareness on Ebola and keeping the phenomenon in the public consciousness.

The other panelists at the talk show moderated by Chukwuemeka Eze, executive director, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, WANEP, were Amaechi Alozie, of the ECOWAS Humanitarian Affairs Directorate and Helen Nnadozie, assistant chief nursing officer, Wuse General Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria. Other people who attended the event  included members of the medical profession, scholars, representatives of government agencies, civil society and media organisations.

— May 11, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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