Minister urges cautious optimism in Ebola response

24 Nov, 2014

Ghana’s Minister of Health Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah has lauded progress in regional and international responses to the fight against Ebola with Nigeria and Senegal recently declared free of the disease, but cautioned against letting down the guards on the outbreak that has claimed more than 5,000 lives with over 13,000 persons infected mainly in the West African region.

He told the ECOWAS Ministerial Coordination Group meeting in Accra on Wednesday 5th November 2014 that the “good news only shows that we can contain this disease and eventually free our sub-region and indeed, the global community of this scourge sooner than later, but the price we have had to pay may never be fully known.”

Consequently, the Minister counselled that “our response must not only focus on the immediate challenges we face, but must also look forward to the reconconstruction of our countries in revamping the health infrastructure and the health system.”

“As we discuss the status of our response, it is important that we approach the next stage of the fight with responses that are informed by fact and not fear; responses that seek to protect the human rights of our people,” said the Minister, chair of the Ministerial Group, which will be reporting to the extraordinary summit of regional leaders opening Thursday 6th November in the Ghanaian capital.

He also reaffirmed Ghana’s commitment to playing a major role as the regional hub for the coordination of collective efforts in addressing the Ebola menace.

In his message read by the Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow, the President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E. Kadré Desire Ouédraogo said the Ministerial session and the summit will provide opportunities to review the regional response, challenges and the way forward in tackling the disease using concerted, multisectoral and coordinated approach.

Reiterating the far-reaching health, humanitarian, security and development impacts of the outbreak on the region, the ECOWAS chief called for more support, coordination and mobilization of the international community behind the regional initiatives and interventions to defeat the disease.

The Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah congratulated ECOWAS for the coordinated regional response against Ebola and informed the meeting that victory against the disease was imminent with the great progress in the development of a vaccine.

Hinting on the logistical and financial challenges of accessing the vaccine and its anticipated limited quantity, the WHO senior official urged West African leaders to move fast and ensure that the region gets the bulk of the product, expected to be available by the end of this year through the middle of 2015.

In an opening remark, Dr. Crespin Xavier, Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), ECOWAS’ specialized agency, provided a background on the status of the regional response and called for the intensification of collective efforts to defeat the disease.

Also present at the meeting were the ECOWAS Commissioners for Finance Mrs. Khadi Ramatu Saccoh, Administration and General Conference Stephen Anyemi Nartey, Energy and Mines Dr. Morlaye Bangura and Macro-Economic Policy and Economic Research Dr. Ibrahim Bocar Ba.

There were also representatives of development partners including UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, USAID, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, WHO and the UN Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

Directorate of Communication

Member States