An extraordinary Summit held recently in Conakry, Guinea of leaders of the three countries worst hit by Ebola, along with their Ivorian counterpart represented by its Foreign Minister, committed themselves to achieving “Zero Ebola Infection” within the next 60 days beginning last Sunday, February 15, 2015.
This commitment, the three Mano River Union (MRU) leaders noted, cannot be achieved in isolation. Therefore they have appealed to the International Community to provide all necessary support to achieve their objective of zero Ebola cases by mid-April 2015
According to a Dispatch from Conakry, Guinea, the commitment was contained in a Declaration of MRU Heads of State and Government on the Eradication of Ebola and Post-Ebola Socio-Economic Recovery, during an Extraordinary Session to adopt common strategies to end the Ebola virus disease epidemic in the sub-region, and address the post-Ebola socio-economic development recovery needs.
The Summit brought together host President Alpha Condé of Guinea, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Representative of President Alhassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Charles Koffi Diby.
The leaders approved the strategy for reaching and sustaining “Zero Ebola Infection” in the sub-region with special emphasis on infection prevention control, social mobilization, community engagement, surveillance, cross border collaboration, instituting robust and sustainable social protection programs, providing mental and psychosocial support and ensuring coordination.
The MRU Heads of State and Government recognized that to get to and stay at zero will depend on their collective political will to provide the enabling environment to translate intervention strategies into action, the dispatch noted.
They advocated that international partners should plan and manage their exits responsibly dictated by the epidemiology while ensuring that capacity is transferred adequately to national institutions; and achieve seamless flow of information amongst nations at all levels.
Meanwhile, the MRU leaders have endorsed the Post-Ebola Socio-Economic Frameworks prepared by Ministers in order to mobilize required resources for implementation. They acknowledged the emphasis on instituting sustainable healthcare delivery systems, reopening of educational institutions, revitalizing the agriculture sector, addressing the needs of women, children, youth, orphans, survivors and persons with disabilities. MRU leaders equally sanctioned implementing the Mano River Union-African Development Bank Initiative on critical infrastructure needs and improving governance.
They have directed their Ministers to harmonize and consolidate the regional and country specific documents, including the costs of intervention to be presented at the European Union Ebola Conference that is expected to take place in the Belgian Capital, Brussels on March 3. The Brussels conference is aimed at mobilizing support for the region. The MRU leaders also appointed President Sirleaf as their Spokesperson at the conference.
The MRU leaders, also at the Summit, welcomed planned meetings by bilateral and multilateral partners and urged them to adopt the MRU and country specific strategies. They called upon them to go beyond ties and relationships in supporting the affected countries.
They welcomed the World Bank’s proposal to establish a Post-Ebola Recovery Marshall Plan with dedicated resources and agreed that this is the best way forward. They urged development partners to utilize country systems for disbursements and implementation of Post-Ebola Recovery activities.
The MRU leaders called on the International Community to provide direct budget support and debt cancellation for the affected countries.
They called on partners to renew their commitments to Mutual Accountability and ensure full disclosure of all resources committed to the fight against Ebola; as well as renew their commitments to the New Deal Principles and country-specific Mutual Accountability Frameworks as the main levers to guide post-Ebola recovery interventions.
They agreed that in support of post-Ebola recovery, Member States will allocate a proportion of their public investment to local Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. They believe that this decision will improve the resilience of their economies by supporting national production and creating employment opportunities.
The leaders expressed their deep condolences to the families of the victims across the three countries especially those healthcare personnel who were in the forefront of fighting the epidemic. They also expressed their concerns about the wellbeing of their populations and the risks associated with their development agendas.
They appreciated the solidarity manifested by Côte d’Ivoire through ECOWAS Initiative in deploying healthcare workers to the affected Member States.
The Heads of State and Government thanked all airline carriers that have maintained flights to the affected countries and particularly commended Member State Cote d’Ivoire for the early resumption of Air Côte d’Ivoire flights and called on other regional carriers to emulate this good example.