EU Urges Holistic Approach to Supporting Health Sector

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As reports emerge about a decline in Ebola cases and international partners rush into affected countries with assistance, the European Union (EU) is calling for total concentration on all matters relating to health and not just the Ebola crisis.

The Managing Director for Crisis Response and Operational Coordinator at the European External Action Service (EEAS), Agostino Miozzo, yesterday told a press briefing in Monrovia that other diseases including diarrhea, typhoid and malaria, are prevalent in the sub-region, and they can claim lives along side Ebola.

Mr. Miozzo is the head of a high level EU delegation which is visiting the three Ebola- affected countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

He told the press conference that if, in the international response, attention is paid only to Ebola, other emergencies will occur in a few months from now and people will continue to die from treatable diseases.

“We need to keep our vigilance on the entire health situation in the three affected countries and not just Ebola,” he urged.

Besides, Mr. Miozzo said food security and education are equally important in the crisis and they should be addressed simultaneously because they go side by side.

He indicated that food security is important and if attention is not paid to it, another problem will occur while trying to address one at a time.

He said schools are now closed in the midst of the Ebola crisis and students are sitting down, which, he lamented, is a bad sign for the young people who need to acquire education.

Giving the background of his delegation’s visit, Mr. Miozzo said EU member countries are seeing the need for the Union to scale up the quality and quantity of EU’s intervention in the Ebola crisis.  The delegation was here also to assess the situations in the affected countries and to report back to Brussels.

“We do not want to duplicate interventions.  The purpose of the visit is to assess the interventions by international partners including the United States, talk with them and know exactly what we at EU will be doing in the crisis.  This is a regional crisis and we must take a regional approach because we cannot free one country and leave out the others,” Mr. Miozzo said.

He added that they cannot approach the situation as a single unit; it should be done comprehensively with other partners.

He also reiterated EU’s opposition to isolation and said those countries affected cannot be isolated. The disease, he said, is a virus that cannot stop because of isolation.

The Managing Director for Crisis Response and Operation did not comment on the current information about decline in Ebola cases.  He, however, commended Liberians and the international community for their roles in responding to the crisis.

He said they see more improvements in the Liberian Ebola response, which he described as “fantastic.”

He, however, warned that Ebola has not totally left and even if cases drop, people should always be careful because it can resurface at any time.

The press conference was attended by EU Delegation head, Ambassador Antillio Pacifici and members of the visiting delegation.

EU is one of Liberia’s partners that have significantly contributed to the Ebola crisis. 

Besides millions of Euros the Union is providing to support government’s budget and address medical issues, it has offered to transport some Ebola materials and assign health workers in the three affected countries.

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