Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ebola: Ministerial group calls for mobilization of regional armed, security forces to bolster Ebola fight

Source: ECOWAS
Ministerial group calls for mobilization of regional armed, security forces to bolster Ebola fight

The ECOWAS Coordinating Ministerial Group for the implementation of the Regional Operational Plan on the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has called for urgent mobilization of the Armed and Security Forces of Member States to strengthen the regional response and interventions against the disease.

In a Communiqué after its meeting in Accra, Ghana on Friday 26th September 2014, the Ministerial Group Chaired by Ghana’s Health Minister, Dr. Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, recommended that the Armed and Security Forces should provide, among others, medical personnel and logistics as well as mobilize the support of Military Engineers regiments in setting up Ebola treatment centers in countries.

The Ministerial Group, which considered the Report of the just-ended two-day Meeting of the ECOWAS Technical Monitoring Surveillance and Group on Ebola response, equally called for the provision of adequate financial incentives to National Health personnel already on ground in Member States.

The Communiqué called for the finalization of the Ebola Regional Operational Plan and its submission to the President of ECOWAS Commission.

In addition, the Ministerial Group called for the immediate deployment of a delegation of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), the specialized health institution of ECOWAS to Ebola affected countries to support national coordination in the fight against the epidemic.

The Group equally recommended the organization of High-level Missions to nations bordering the Ebola affected countries to ensure effective implementation of interventions for the prevention of the epidemic as well as case management where necessary.

Multi-sectoral Missions should also be organized to Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal to discuss immediate implementation of humanitarian, economic and health corridors, in accordance with rules adopted by the Technical Monitoring and Surveillance Group.

The Ministerial Group also recommended that harmonized sensitization and information messages should be developed and disseminated, targeting populations as part of efforts to stop the spread of the epidemic.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, Minister Agyeman-Mensah reiterated the statement by the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama, that the Ebola scourge will be defeated through coordinated regional response “to avoid countries engaging in panic behavour.”

“ECOWAS has a major role to play and if we all work together we will defeat Ebola through the sharing of information and ideas,” the Minister added.

In his remarks, the WAHO Director General Dr. Xavier Crespin also stressed the need for all hands to be on deck to rein in the Ebola epidemic, which has claimed close to 3,000 lives from the more than 6,000 cases reported in the region.

The West African Health Ministers Extra-ordinary Assembly held in Accra last August, set up both the Coordinating Ministerial Group and the Technical Monitoring and Surveillance Group, to coordinate the multi-sectoral regional responses and interventions against the disease.

The Technical Group’s meeting, chaired by the WAHO Deputy Director General Dr.
Laurent Assogba was attended by representatives of Ebola affected countries – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal – as well as Cote d’Ivoire, officials of ECOWAS Commission led by the Commissioner for Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Mr. Isaias Barreto de Rosa, WAHO, and representatives of development partners.

The meeting reviewed among others, the Terms of Reference (TORs) for the mobilization and deployment of human resources to affected countries; Modalities for setting up humanitarian, economic and health corridors; National and Regional coordination mechanisms, and also fine-tuned the Ebola Regional Operational Plan.