‘Ebola is a Global Issue’

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Although the Ebola outbreak in the Mano River Basin is not the issue of priority in the ongoing U.S-Africa Summit in Washington, some African leaders are raising the concern that it should not just be seen as a regional issue for a few countries but a global humanitarian crisis that can affect any group of people.

The leaders, including Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Macky Sall of Senegal, made the observation on August 5, 2014 during a panel discussion on the Africa Business Forum that is a part of the U.S-Africa Summit.

President Zuma noted that Ebola is a disease that is affecting humanity, and that it must be collectively battled and not be attributed to one region in Africa.

President Sall stressed that Senegal is not far from Guinea and Sierra Leone, where people travel from almost every day to enter his country.

He added that recently, an American contracted the disease and was quickly flown to the U.S., which indicates that the virus can now spread even into the United States.

He told the audience that as the disease spreads in the sub-region, it is necessary that the world sees it as a "threat to human survival", and should dare to fight it with commitment and sincerity while it is still concentrated in a specific region.

The two Presidents’ comments came in response to a question about how Ebola is affecting Africa.

When the question about the effect of Ebola on the three West Africa states arose,  Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said even though his country was far from West Africa, Tanzania is nonetheless taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease to the east African coast.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus in the three West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has claimed more than 700 lives over the past five months, with more than 500 suspected cases recorded.

It has worsened over the past two weeks, with doctors from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda losing their lives to the deadly disease, and an American doctor and nurse still battling in the US for theirs. 

This worsening situation prevented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s participation in the ongoing U.S-Africa Summit in Washington, which President Obama said he deeply regretted. Madam Sirleaf was instead represented by Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan and a number of other cabinet ministers.

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