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West Africa Health Ministers agree on priority actions to end Ebola outbreak

The Emergency Ministerial meeting called by WHO to discuss the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa ended with Health Ministers agreeing on a range of priority actions.

In a Communiqué issued at the end of the two-day meeting, the Ministers agreed that the current situation poses a serious threat to all countries in the region and beyond and called for immediate action. They expressed concern on the adverse social and economic impact of the outbreak and stressed the need for coordinated actions by all stakeholders, national leadership, enhanced cross-border collaboration and community participation in the response.

Speaking at the closing session, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo commended the Ministers and said: “We have adopted an inter-country strategy to tackle this outbreak. It’s time for concrete action to put an end to the suffering and deaths caused by Ebola virus disease and prevent its further spread”.

In spite of the ongoing efforts to tackle the outbreak, there was consensus that a number of gaps and challenges remain. These relate to coordination of the outbreak, financing, communication, cross border collaboration, logistics, case management, infection control, surveillance, contact tracing, community participation and research.

The World Health Organization will establish a Sub-Regional Control Center in Guinea to act as a coordinating platform to consolidate and harmonize the technical support to West African countries by all major partners; and assist in resource mobilization. The delegates also underscored the importance of WHO leading an international effort to promote research on Ebola virus disease and other haemorrhagic fevers.

The Ministers adopted a common inter-country strategy which highlights the following key priority actions for the affected countries:

  • Convene national inter-sectoral meetings involving key government ministries, national technical committees and other stakeholders to map out a plan for immediate implementation of the strategy.
  • Mobilise community, religious, political leaders to improve awareness, and the understanding of the disease
  • Strengthen surveillance, case finding reporting and contact tracing
  • Deploy additional national human resources with the relevant qualifications to key hot spots.
  • Identify and commit additional domestic financial resources
  • Organise cross-border consultations to facilitate exchange of information
  • Work and share experiences with countries that have previously managed Ebola outbreaks in the spirit of south-south cooperation

The delegates also urged partners to continue providing technical and financial support and work with WHO to effectively coordinate the response. In an effort to promote regional leadership, and highlight the seriousness of the outbreak, the delegates strongly recommended that the forthcoming Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of States summit addresses the issue of the EVD outbreak.

More details.

•Date: 4th July 2014 • Africa •Type: Article • Topic: Pandemic planning

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