From emergency to recovery: AfDB joins Heads of States in Brussels for High-Level Conference on Ebola

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On March 3, Ginette Nzau-Muteta, African Development Bank Health Manager, spoke at a high-level conference on “Ebola: From emergency to recovery” hosted by the European Union in Brussels. Nzau-Muteta presented the Bank’s efforts in the fight against Ebola with a health systems strengthening emergency program of US $223 million as well as a US $300 million road development and facilitation of transport project within the Mano River Union, which will bring new infrastructure and economic relief to the three Ebola-affected countries.

“Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have the lowest density of health workers in the world. In the same vein, as Liberian President Sirleaf called for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa, we need a ‘Marshall Plan’ for the education of health workers,” she said.

Heads of State endorsed the Post-Ebola Socio-Economic Framework prepared by Ministers of Health in order to mobilize funding for health-service delivery, as well as implementing the AfDB’s Mano River Union infrastructure project.

Rebuilding health systems is a priority over the next 2-3 years. Countries need to invest in education systems that are both accessible and of good quality to meet the manpower needs of the countries. Alternative training and education models (stepladder approach) and new technologies such as electronic and mobile learning can help accelerate the process. Nzau-Muteta highlighted the important role of youth and the private sector in the recovery process and the need to generate a dynamic that gives them livelihoods and hope.

The aim of the conference was to sustain international mobilization, ensure pledged resources are made available to support response efforts, promote regional cooperation, assist West African countries to plan the next steps in the fight against Ebola, and assist the countries to build resilient health systems.

The Presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea underlined the considerable scale of the task still ahead and recognized that success was not yet assured. While the incidence of the disease had decreased, new cases were still occurring in all three countries. It is an urgent imperative to stop all transmission of the virus. They commended the unprecedented effort to develop diagnostic tests, as well as vaccines and treatment against Ebola and in particular the exemplary level of cooperation between academic and research institutions, public and private entities, and the considerable public and private funds already committed.

Hosted by the European Union, the conference was co-chaired by Alpha Condé, President of Guinea; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone; the Prime Minister of Togo; and senior representatives from the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union. The conference was opened by Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgium.

The conference brought together representatives of 150 delegations, including 69 countries contributing to the fight against Ebola, the international and non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the scientific community.

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