|Meeting of the Peace and Security Council: Open Session on Ebola outbreak in West Africa and AU Support Mission to Ebola outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA)|
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of Oxfam, I would like to thank the PSC for inviting us to this important debate.
With the current Ebola outbreak, Health services have collapsed and other diseases are going untreated. Household income is going down, poverty level is increasing, schools are closed and, If not contained, the likelihood of the spread of this virus to a larger area in our continent is high!
Ebola crisis has wiped away, years of development gains, and, is now threatening to increase the fragility of the affected countries and the stability of the region.
Ebola crisis requires a multi-sectorial response to reduce infection rates. My organization, is now responding to the crisis with a planned budget of 43 Million USD. Our focus now is mostly to prevent further spread of the disease.
This is being achieved through supporting improving capacity of inpatient care with a WASH programme as well as material support to medical facilities together with more effective community level prevention and control mechanisms.
We are now operating mainly in Sierra Leone and Liberia with the aims to reach at least 3.2 Million people at risk.
In additions to recommendations already proposed, I will mention 3 more from our end:
- Prioritize Prevention of further infections – In addition to the mobilisation of funding for treatment and medical personnel, response, should also focus on a systematic education of communities, equipping them with means to protect themselves, in order to prevent further spread of the virus. Community mobilisation and engagement is the only way to ensure that treatment facilities work to their full potential – by ensuring that people know how and when to access treatment – by removing the blocks to behavioural change)…. Treatment and Prevention must go hand in hand.
- We should not forget preparedness for “countries at risk”. At least 15 countries have been identified as “countries of concern”. My previous point on prevention goes for them as well.
- Revive the AU Abuja Declaration on health:
One of the lessons we learn today is that, affected countries were not equipped to detect and contain the epidemic on time… Universal access to quality and free healthcare should be at the heart of making poverty history in our continent.
In April 2001, AU member states pledged in Abuja to increase government funding for health to at least 15% of their national budget. 13 years after, most of the countries in the region allocated less the 7% to health. In Guinea for example, reports show that only 3% of the national budget goes to health. This is a wakeup call to us!!! We call upon the PSC today to remind to member states, their Abuja commitments and urge them to implement it.
I thank you.