Cross-border collaboration on prevention of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa culminated in Monrovia as delegates shared experiences and pertinent information on how to defeat the virus from the West African sub-region, especially the Mano River Union, on a more unified front.
The meeting brought together national leaders on the Ebola response from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Nigeria and host Liberia, all brainstorming, sharing ideas and experiences on how to prevent the further spread of the virus and finally eradicate it from the sub-region.
It was organized by the Liberian Government and the United Nations Mission for the Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and held at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Monrovia Technical Meeting, as it was called, came up with recommendations and commitments which would be endorsed at a summit meeting of regional Heads of State later this month.
Delegates examined key issues in the cross-border transmission of the virus and sought to create opportunities for closer cooperation between the affected countries and the Ebola response.
Special presentations by the heads of delegation of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali were made coming up with the epidemiological situation report, strategy for controlling Ebola virus disease transmission, cross border strategy and intervention for Ebola virus disease control, amongst others.
A special presentation on “getting to zero” with emphasis on lessons from Nigeria’s response was made by the delegation from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In her welcoming remarks, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Ebola would not derail the determination of affected countries to make progress in developing their respective nations and thanked Liberia’s response team and UNMEER for initiating the meeting and the participating countries for attending.
She said the three most affected countries, including Liberia, have common history, culture, tradition and a common war against the Ebola virus disease. “We are dealing with an unknown enemy that we did not know, and we had a common determination to overcome our challenges when Ebola came. However, Ebola will not be the one to derail our progress,” President Sirleaf assured participants.
The Liberian leader observed that inhabitants of the region have been both victims and victors because they were gravely affected by the virus but they played a major role in beating back the transmission.
She said reaching a status of ‘zero new cases’ would also require their total involvement and cooperation.
President Sirleaf expressed the hope that the meeting would enable the participating countries to share information and experiences on what the people in their respective countries have been doing including their sorrow, joy and determination.
The Liberian leader suggested that the meeting should endeavor to find ways to transfer capacity and re-enforce the view that no one country, “is free until all the other countries are free,” and urged them to go beyond just sharing experiences.
She conveyed to her colleagues her appreciation for allowing their response teams to participate in the Monrovia meeting and for all they have done so far to contain the Ebola virus disease in the affected countries.
UN Secretary General’s Special Representatives and Head of UNMEER, Anthony Banbury, told the meeting that an effect on one country represents an effect on all as far as the Ebola outbreak in the region was concerned.
“We have to work to change the operation to the most effective way that considers a more regional approach in the response. We need smart, practical, and creative ways to fight the disease,” Mr. Banbury stressed, adding, “We must do it a different way than the ways we have responded to AIDS, other diseases and disasters.”
He thanked Liberia for the excellent initiative of hosting a joint meeting of the affected countries and others in the region and urged the countries to ensure that the response matches the risk and threat posed by the Ebola virus disease. “We must tailor our efforts to have the most effective regional response and impact,” he pointed out.