by Laila Ibrahim
The Extra Ordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of States and Government has announced the donation of $1.5million to the three worst hit countries in the sub-region to aid in the fight of the epidemic.
The three worst hit countries include: Guinea, Liberia and Seirra leone, while Nigeria which was once listed has now been declared Ebola free.
The United Nations Representative Mohammed Ibn Chambers, said there was a need for regional and global response following the far reaching effects of ebola. He called for decisive action from the international community to the three most affected countries in order to stem the spread of the disease.
He commended countries like Nigeria, Ethopia, Burundi, Congo, that have made pledges to send medical personnel to the three countries, noting that there are encouraging signs that the epidemic is gradually coming under control.
President Goodluck Jonathan is represented by the Vice President Namadi Sambo at the extra ordinary meeting.
Speaking at the opening session of the emergency summit, the Chairman of the ECOWAS and Ghanian President, President John Dramani Mahama, said the focus of the meeting is to ensure that the best is made out of the assistance received by assessing what is needed, matching it with was has been offered and identifying the gaps that remain so that they too can be filled so that we can bring and end to this epidemic.
He said there was a need to look beyond the statistics and focus on the faces of those who have been affected by Ebola noting that the image of the a documentary after visiting the three worst hit countries had stuck to his mind.
He said, “A child standing alone on the street, alone and hungry with tears in his eyes, the crowd of adults standing at a distance, with not a single person making an effort to reach them, because of fear and this transformed this child into a social pariah.”
“When we speak of 13,567 reported cases of Ebola, we speak of 13,567 human lives. We speak of the countless other people who may also come in contact with those 13,567 individuals” he added.
Mahama also noted that the economies of the three countries were all fast crumbling as they have not been able to plant or harvest in their seasons, meaning that the suffering will last long after “and because the economies of all nations in the sub-region are all inter connected that suffering will resound through out West Africa to even countries that have not registered even one case”.
He said what is most unfortunate about the three countries that have been hardest hit is that they are countries recovering from the effect of conflict with structures greatly lacking.
“With this in mind the discussion of aid must include the a plan for the future sustainability for these nations , we cannot and must not leave them as the disease found them, to do so will make all our efforts virtually meaningless as it will leave these countries once again vulnerable and defenceless against the threat of any future health crisis.
“The contribution we are making no matter how minor they seem will make a difference
It could symbolise the birth of something new and beautiful” he added.