The United Nations International Ebola Recovery Conference, called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, officially opened Friday in New York, for the purpose of mobilizing resources to support recoverty efforts.
Several heads of state attendend the conference, including Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who attended in his capacity as the chairs of both the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), and also the presidents of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, three of the countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak. All were optimistic that the conference would generate fresh strategies to tackle Ebola, which left thousands of people dead sometime this year.
The UN Chief credited African countries and the international community's response to the Ebola outbreak, which he said helped to contain the outbreak.
“I commended the more than 800 African volunteers who deployed through the AU Ebola support mechanism. I also thank the countries that answered my call to send in logistical support, medical teams, crisis managers and aid workers for safe and dignified burials. Thousands of women and men from within and outside their countries put their lives on the line to slow the advance of this disease,” said Ki-Moon
President Mugabe also praised the efforts of the international community for the gains recorded in the fight against Ebola. But, he noted that there is need for the international community to be prepared to tackle such disasters.
“We, however, should remind ourselves that health epidemics bring with them far reaching consequences, consequences on the economic, social and cultural structures of the affected societies. In that regard it is important to recognize and emphasize the need to embrace inclusive and complimentary Ebola response mechanisms,” said Mugabe.
He said these mechanisms should have realistic focus on capacity building strengthening health delivery systems, improving access to safe water and sanitation and reviving economic activities which have been disrupted by the outbreak.
The World Health organization puts the death toll of the outbreak at more than 11,000 mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Mr. Mugabe warned Africans to remain prepared for any Ebola outbreak.
“We know the underlying issues that drove and exacerbated the outbreak. Those weaknesses still exist and need to be comprehensively addressed so that we guarantee and maintain the momentum we have built.”
He added the international community should support the recovery of these nations, including its economic recovery, pushing the calls by the AU for debt cancellation for the three nations.
Dr. Emmerson Pazara of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association told Studio 7 the president nailed it though all this depends on the availability of funds.
“The only way to avert that crisis is to be able to be in a position to put funds and to mobilize human resources and to set up certain structures to avert those crises if they do occur,” said Paraza.
Health experts say the Ebola epidemic will leave a mark on the most affected nations - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea – that are seeking up to $3.2 billion to rebuild their health systems and sustain their recovery from the outbreak.
The African Union will on July 20th hold an Ebola Conference in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea for A-U response on recovery efforts.