The West African Health Organization (WAHO) is collaborating with the Ministry of Health in a three-day high level post-Ebola regional meeting in Monrovia from April 10-12.
The 60 participants include the ECOWAS Commission (the President of the ECOWAS Commission; the Commissioners for Agriculture and Social Affairs), WAHO, ECOWAS Regional Center for Surveillance and Disease Control and two representatives from each of the ECOWAS countries and their technical partners.
The technical partners include the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, World Bank and AFDB.
Others are US CDC, CCISD, African Union, French Cooperation, German Cooperation, Fondation Mérieux, CORDS, JICA, Mano River Union, IBD, and University of Oslo.
Also at the meeting are President of the Republic of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Chairperson of the Conference of ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments; the President of Togolese Republic and ECOWAS Regional Coordinator for the Fight against Epidemics; the President of Republic of Guinea; the President of the ECOWAS Commission; and the Ministers of Health of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo and host, Liberia.
The Ebola virus epidemic had shown the weaknesses and failures of the health systems of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to protect the public, not only against the infection itself but also against its long-term socio-political and economic consequences.
Analyses of weaknesses in health systems have been carried out with broad consensus on the need for reconstruction of more resilient health systems and more adequate resource mobilization.
Recommendations on strengthening health systems have been discussed at various regional and international meetings and updated at the World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 25, 2016. In addition, the Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS Member States have taken several decisions to strengthen regional and national capacities for epidemic management.
A critical analysis of the implementation of the various recommendations and decisions at regional and country levels, particularly those most affected, is needed in order to guide future interventions.
This meeting aims at pursuing the analysis of implementation bottlenecks, and appropriate actions to be taken for the betterment of the systems.
There are four main objectives from the gathering that should accelerate the implementation of measures aimed at improving the region’s capabilities for the prevention, detection and response to threats posed by emerging infectious diseases including zoonotic diseases.
They are: to report on the implementation of the decisions of the Heads of State and Governments in regards to prevention, detection and control of epidemics; to review the resources mobilized to date for the region and for the most affected countries by the Ebola Virus disease, and the status of the implementation of the Abuja Declaration; to develop a regional agenda for strengthening health systems and monitoring progress in regards to prevention, detection and control of epidemics; and to obtain strong political commitment for the implementation of health policies and programs in the region and in the countries.
Expected results will include the status of implementation of the decisions of the Heads of State and Governments on the prevention, detection and control of epidemics; the status on the resources mobilized for the region and countries, particularly the most affected by the epidemic of the Ebola virus disease; and that of the implementation of the Abuja Declaration are updated; a regional agenda for strengthening health systems and for monitoring progress related to prevention, detection and control of epidemics is developed; and a strong political commitment to the implementation of health policies and programs in the region and in the countries is achieved.
The methodology for the meeting will include plenary sessions for the three days. During the first two days, experts from the fifteen ECOWAS Member States and partners will discuss the management of epidemics; strengthening health systems; resource mobilization and partnership; and the state of implementation of the decisions of the Heads of State and Governments on the prevention, detection and control of epidemics.
Following the work of the experts, a comprehensive report and a “Monrovia Declaration” will be proposed for adoption by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments.