ECOWAS, Journalists Parley on Ebola


The Economic Community of West African States has said that the media is critical in dissemination of information on Ebola virus disease

KADRÉ Désiré Ouédraogo, President of the ECOWAS Commission, laid special emphasis on the fundamental role of the media in promoting social mobilization, which is critical for the successful fight against the Ebola virus disease which has already killed 2442 people out of the 4872 cases reported in West Arica since March 2014.

At a dinner ECOWAS organised for Nigerian journalists in Abuja on Friday, September  Ouédraogo urged the media in general, and the West African media in particular, to refrain from causing alarm or panic among the citizens about the outbreak. “As important stakeholders and custodians of the information dissemination chain and public enlightenment, you have a duty to inform, mobilise, raise awareness and provide positive answers to our citizens on the efficient means for fighting against this scourge,” he said.

He seized the opportunity to recall the various measures taken by the ECOWAS Commission since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease six months ago, particularly the creation of the Regional Solidarity Fund and a series of political actions taken to stem the virus spread throughout the West African region.

Ouédraogo expressed sincere gratitude to Nigeria for providing the Funds with $ 3.5 million and welcomed the outstanding financial contributions from his Institution, some ECOWAS Member States, the West African Health Organisation, WAHO, the African Development Bank, AfDB, the World Bank, the private sector and other partners, with a view to supporting the efforts made by the Ebola-affected countries.

He laid special emphasis on the need for solidarity among the West African citizens and said that stigmatisation and isolation of individuals and the Ebola-affected, as well as suspension of flights to those countries, are counter-productive. “Instead of isolation, we should rather open humanitarian, health and economic corridors to the Ebola-affected countries. Opening the borders with checkpoints should be the rule whereas closing the borders would be an exception. Preventing the spread, solidarity and collective response are the solutions to the Ebola virus challenge,” he said.

He recalled the decisions of the Extraordinary Meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Health held on August 8, in Accra, Ghana, on regional solidarity, human resources mobilisation through the dispatching of health workers, supply of materials and equipment as well as harmonisation of the strategies. The meeting also led to the establishment of the regional monitoring mechanism essentially composed of the Ministerial Coordination Group chaired by the Ghana’s Minister of Health, including his counterparts from the Ebola-affected countries as members, and the ECOWAS Commission and WAHO for the secretariat.

Ouedraogo informed the meeting that the group will meet again on September 26, in Ghana’s capital to discuss the required terms to ensure expeditious dispatching of the health workers as recommended in the regional and collaborative plan for the fight against this scourge.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission also commended the courage and professionalism of the health workers of the Ebola-affected countries for putting their own lives on the line to help the sick people. “More than 140 health workers were contaminated and 120 of them died. These heroes deserve our support and recognition,” he said

He expressed his organisation’s sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this regional tragedy and urged the Community citizens to sustain the communion of prayers for the quick healing of the sick people. He also prayed for the souls of the deceased to rest in peace.

The journalists, who attended the dinner, congratulated the president of the ECOWAS Commission and the West African leaders for their initiatives aimed at defeating the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa. However, they lamented the weak involvement of the regional media in the dissemination of these initiatives.

— Oct. 6, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT


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