NOVEMBER 19, 2014
A high level delegation from the Economic Community of West Africa States – ECOWAS – Commission is due in Freetown today, 19 November, as the sub-regional body steps up efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus in three member states – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
The team, led by ECOWAS Commission President, H.E. Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, will also include Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General and head of UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA); Dr Xavier Crespin, Director General of the West Africa Health Organisation, and two ECOWAS staffers.
The delegation is expected to hold high level meetings with President Ernest Bai Koroma and members of his government, including the National Ebola Response Committee, and non-state actors.
The delegation arrives in Freetown as concerns grow about the steady increase in new Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, unlike in Guinea and Liberia, where they outbreak is ebbing.
ECOWAS has led international efforts to stem the worst Ebola outbreak in the world, which has killed an estimated 5,000 out of 13,000 infections in West Africa.
The sub-regional group has already donated US$1 million to each of the three Member States within the context of the multisectoral coordinated response to defeat the disease.
On 7 November, ECOWAS announced in Accra, Ghana, following an extraordinary meeting on Ebola and the political fallout from the resignation of Blaise Campoare that “Member States have announced financial contributions raising to US$7.7 million the total of the regional Solidarity Fund to fight Ebola.”
Nigeria also reaffirmed its willingness to deploy 500 health volunteers in the three countries afflicted by the virus.
Also, according to a Communiqué issued at the end of the Accra summit, “the regional leaders urged Member States to contribute military personnel and logistics to enhance response capacities, support the medical staff on the field and participate in the contribution of additional treatment and isolation centres as well as ensure their security. Member States were also encouraged to provide additional medical and voluntary staff to the affected countries.
“To better address sanitary crisis in the future the ECOWAS leaders called for the strengthening of national health systems, including increasing resource allocation to health sector at a minimum of 15% of national budgets in accordance with the Abuja Declaration.
“The ECOWAS Commission was also directed to take all necessary measures to set up a regional centre for disease prevention and control in West Africa and enhance health research in the region.”
Meanwhile, the Accra summit called on airlines and maritime companies to continue operation in the affected countries and on partner countries to lift visa restrictions imposed on such countries.