The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has said that the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease exposed the weakness in the health sector of countries. She has warned that as a lesson from the Ebola crisis, Africans governments should now see the need to develop a robust public health systems in their various countries.
Dr. Zuma, a former Health Minister of South Africa, said if this is done, it will help African governments to respond sufficiently to such outbreaks as the EVD and any other future health eventualities.
Speaking in Monrovia last week, the AUC boss also said that governments on the continent should put a lot of emphasis on health and hygiene being taught in schools so that children grow up having a good understanding about health issues, including infectious diseases and among others.
She was addressing a press stakeout along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the foyer of the Foreign Ministry during a solidarity visit. Dr. also stressed that Africans should make sure that our various cultures and health should go together.
Dr. Zuma, who was heading a 14-member delegation that paid a daylong official visit to Liberia, said they were in the country to express solidarity and sympathies to the government and people of Liberia.
“We are very happy to be here, even though under difficult circumstances, to show and express our solidarity and to also extend our sympathies to those who have passed due to the Ebola crisis,” Dr. Zuma said.
She commended Liberia for its fortitude and courage in facing this very difficult situation. “We hope that you will continue and sooner rather than later you will be successful in dealing with Ebola.”
On lessons learnt from the Ebola outbreak, the AU Chairperson emphasized that health and education should be embedded in each country’s economic development plan. “If there is no health and skills, there can be no economic development,” she warned, adding, “You need both human and financial capital. All our countries should be strengthening their health services and making sure that investment in its citizens is strong.”
“Countries like Japan they don’t have many mineral resources, but they invest more in health and education and we can see how far these countries are developed. So in all of our countries we need to prioritize the issues of health and education,” she said.
Dr. Zuma disclosed that the AUC is trying to mobilize more human resources from member states to contribute to the efforts of the international community to contain and eradicate the virus that’s devastating the sub-region.
The African Union has already deployed a 36-member team of medical personnel to assist with the fight against Ebola under the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak Operations in West Africa (ASEOWA).
She disclosed that the AU is also trying to mobilize the business community within the region to contribute to the fight against the Ebola virus disease as well post-Ebola “because of the socio-economic challenges it will pose afterwards.”
Meanwhile, many health experts, both continental and global, have noted that the level of devastation or destruction carried out by the Ebola Virus Disease in the Mano River Union basin since its outbreak is as a result of the fragile state of the public health systems in the region. Similar situations also exist in most parts of the African continent, they said.
This rendered citizens of these countries vulnerability to any viral attacks as it is being experienced with this outbreak, health experts have maintained.
The outbreak of the Ebola Virus disease further laid bare the vulnerability of countries of the African continent, situations that are most times attributed to corruption and bad governance on the continent.
The AUC delegation that visited Liberia included the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA), Dr. Carlos Lopes; the head of the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak Operations in West Africa (ASEOWA), Major General Dr. Julius Oketta; and African Union Commission Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Toyin Solaja.