Bank mission led by Vice-President Sue Wardell pays visit to Ebola-affected countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone

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In an effort to further expand the African Development Bank Group’s (AfDB) support to the governments and people of Liberia and Sierra Leone in their fight against Ebola Virus Disease epidemic (EVD), Corporate Services Vice-President, Sue Wardell recently lead a Bank mission to the two countries and met with government officials, investors and NGOs.

During the two back-to-back missions, which took place from March 15-18 in Liberia and from March 18-20 in Sierra Leone, the delegation reiterated the Bank’s commitment to supporting the countries until they achieve zero new case status, as the institution was at the vanguard of the health response in fighting back EVD when it broke out more than one year ago.

The mission held talks with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, both of whom reiterated their gratitude to the Bank for its actions on the ground. In meetings with government officials in the three affected countries, it was made very clear to the Bank delegation that AfDB’s contribution to fighting back the disease is widely recognized by beneficiaries and partner agencies.

Wardell also met with key frontline actors in the Ebola crisis, including the Ministry of Health Incident Management System (IMS) team, and representatives from the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), Doctors without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières), the International Rescue Committee, and others, from whom she learned how the fight against the epidemic was waged.

The trip to the Ebola-affected countries was extremely informative. From the various stakeholders, the Bank Group delegation learned the key role that communities played in the fight, as well as how the development partner community rallied around a single Government of Liberia-led plan. Wardell and her delegation visited several health centres, some of which had been badly hit by the epidemic and were slowly re-establishing basic health services, especially maternal and ante-natal care. But she also heard stories of the devastation, fear and psychological trauma that ordinary people lived through during the early days as the epidemic raged and the country was all but abandoned. From women leaders, both in government and the diplomatic community, she learned of the need to establish psychosocial services, possibly through radio, for such groups as EVD-affected orphans or victims of gender-based violence and rape, most of whom are young girls.

As Chair of the Bank’s Operations Crisis Committee (OCC), Wardell and the delegation also met with a heads of UN agencies to learn the security and safety arrangements put in place for staff during the Ebola crisis. During her meeting with the Liberia Field Office staff, she heard their individual experiences during the difficult period. Staff expressed their appreciation for the support which the crisis committee provided to them under her supervision during the crisis.