The dreaded Ebola virus is a health emergency and a “destructive element” in the region’s march towards socio-economic development, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Commission Vice President, Toga McIntosh, said on Monday.
The Ebola virus, which is ravaging member countries of ECOWAS, including Nigeria, has killed over 900 persons since it surfaced in Guinea in March 2014.
In a brief to the international community on the Nigerian Government’s response to the epidemic, Mr. McIntosh said at a forum by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja that the Ebola challenge to ECOWAS could only be faced through solidarity, working together and integrated responses.
The vice President used the opportunity to convey the condolences of the Commission to families of the West Africans who have died of the disease.
“We are saddened and grieved by the loss of lives from the outbreak and stand by any action taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria in response to the outbreak,” he said.
While commending Nigeria for the vigorous response to the outbreak so far, Mr. McIntosh told participants at the forum, which included members of the Diplomatic Corps and other stakeholders, of the Solidarity Fund set up to enable the region combat the outbreak.
He assured that ECOWAS would continue to work with member states to fight the spread of the disease, adding that he was optimistic of the contribution by development partners to the Fund.
As precautionary and preventive measure, he said the Commission has suspended its meetings involving officials from member states, while its Lagos Liaison Office has been disinfected.
He said the Commission has also set up an inter-institutional task force to coordinate its internal response with various measures also put in place to protect staff.