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ECOWAS Defence Chiefs mobilize against Ebola

news235_1An emergency session of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS) opened in Accra, the Ghanaian capital on Monday 8th December 2014 with the Chairman, Ghana’s Vice Admiral Mathew Quashie calling for urgent military contribution by Member States to halt the devastation of the Ebola outbreak in the region.

The chairman in his welcome address, warned that the deadly virus “if not checked has the potential of impeding development in our region.”

The CCDS meeting was called at the instance of regional leaders who at their November 6, 2014 Extraordinary session in Accra urged Member States to contribute military personnel and logistics to enhance response capacities, support medical staff in the field and participate in the construction of additional treatment centres and ensure security.

Admiral Quashie said the meeting will discuss presentations on the Deployment Plan for the fight against Ebola and pledges by Member States for deployment of military medical personnel in the fight.

In his message to the meeting, the President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E. Kadré Desire Ouédraogo said the spread of the disease “has come at a huge cost to the affected countries in particular and the ECOWAS region as a whole and had impacted seriously on many sectors, including health, agriculture, education, peace and human security as well as humanitarian and social sectors.”

The Commission has disbursed over US$4.5 million to the affected Member States and through the West African Health Organization (WAHO), the ECOWAS specialized health agency, in collaboration with the AU and the African Development Bank, deployed 116 trained civilian health workers to the most affected countries,” the President added.

In addition, the Nigerian Government in collaboration with the Commission is to train another set of 140 health personnel from ECOWAS Member States to support the fight against the Ebola epidemic which has claimed some 7,000 lives from the more than 17,000 reported cases mainly in the region.

“The ECOWAS Commission recognized every effort by our partners and encourages them to continue in their relentless efforts to stamp out the virus,” President Ouédraogo said in the address red on his behalf by Dr. Daniel Eklu, Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs.

Declaring the CCDS meeting open, Ghana’s Defence Minister Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor, represented by his deputy Honourable Alex Segbefia expressed his optimism that the “highest Military Command” will address the security and deployment of military medical personnel to the most affected countries.

He also outlined the leadership role being played by Ghana and President John Dramani Mahama in the fight against Ebola, with the United Nations locating its Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, UNMEER in Accra.

The CCDS Accra meeting comes on the heels of the deployment of ECOWAS volunteer health workers to the three most affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – after training in Accra.

Within the context of the regional response initiatives against Ebola, President Ouédraogo visited Togo on 4th December 2014 to meet with President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe on the implementation of the regional Roadmap for the defeat of the Ebola epidemic in the region

The November 6 Extraordinary Summit appointed the Togolese leader to supervise the Ebola response and eradication process encapsulated in the regional Roadmap, and also endorsed the Regional Integrated Operational Plan for Response to Ebola, having already set up a Solidarity Fund to deal with the disease.

President Ouédraogo and the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama have also paid solidarity visits to the three Member States.

The deployment of military personnel will boost the regional response initiatives and complement the support of development partners in the fight against the latest Ebola outbreak, the worst in recent history.

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