ECOWAS to assist member countries fight Ebola virus


The Ministers of Health in the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, have decided to mobilise and deploy human resources to assist Ebola virus affected countries.

This promise, coming at the end of their meeting in Accra, was made public in a statement signed by ECOWAS spokesperson, Sunny Ugoh, in Abuja on Saturday.

Mr. Ugoh said the ministers expressed deep concern about the challenges posed by the outbreak of Ebola virus in the region.

“The meeting recognised the negative impact of the disease on the economy, security and social status of ECOWAS member states.

“As a result of the alarming situation, the ministers recognised the need to stop the transmission of the disease through regional solidarity, resource mobilisation and harmonisation of strategies”, it said.

The statement said the ministers called on ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, the international community and the private sector to contribute to the ECOWAS Solidarity Fund for Disease Control.

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It also recommended the encouragement of research and medical schools to contribute actively to global efforts in the quest for lasting solutions to Ebola virus.

“They considered strengthening epidemiological surveillance at entry and exit points which included design of health record cards, temperature checks, use of hand sanitizers and handling of bodies,” the statement said.

He said that identification of suspected cases and their management, prohibition of movement within and outside countries and information sharing among countries, were necessary.
He also noted that strengthening of health facilities at the country level through training and the establishment of isolation centres as also necessary.

Mr. Ugoh stated that clear and consistent messages should be disseminated to the populations and that regional monitoring mechanisms should be put in place.

He also stated that the Assembly of Health Ministers called on airline companies to continue with their usual flight schedules within West Africa.

“Recommendations to ECOWAS Heads of State and Government included the establishment of humanitarian, health and economic corridors with affected countries.

“It also included travel restriction measures and border closures where open borders with checks should be the rule and closure the exception.

“This is in the light of World Health Organisation (WHO) and West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) recommendations,” it added.

Mr. Ugoh, therefore, called for consultation among member countries and the views of WAHO and WHO should be sought where borders needed to be closed for exceptional reasons.

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