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Saturday, September 23, 2023
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 11 2015 (IPS) - “The threat is never over until we rebuild,” Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma stressed at an Ebola Recovery Conference Friday in New York.
On May 9, the west African country of Liberia was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) after 14 long months battling against the disease. However, two months later, in only one week ending Jul. 5, there were 30 confirmed Ebola cases reported in West Africa, three in Liberia, nine in Sierra Leone, and 18 in Guinea, according to the United Nations.
Koroma said that Ebola is a “stubborn enemy” which tends to keep showing its face.
“The battle now is to get the few cases down to zero, and getting our countries and the whole world to stay at zero,” Koroma asserted.
During the one-day high-level conference, the presidents of these three west African countries came together at the U.N. headquarters in New York along with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Zimbabwe’s President and Chair of the African Union, Robert Mugabe, as well as many other key actors to focus international attention, share recovery plans and raise funds.
In the sub-regional recovery plan there is a strong focus on rebuilding the health institutions, which were already fragile before the epidemic, according to the World Bank’s latest reports, with 4,022 more maternal related deaths of women per year predicted in West Africa because of the loss of health workers due to Ebola.
President Mugabe said that “we cannot afford to be complacent” because the underlying causes of the diseases’ exacerbation still exist.
Although there is emphasis on health, the recovery plans are comprehensive, focusing on issues from water, and sanitation, to gender, youth and social protection; and even information and communication technology.
President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf speaking on behalf of the Mono River Union (MRU), the intergovernmental institution comprising the three countries — Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia — stated that the plan is fully aligned with development plans, with a focus on “empowering our communities who were determined to protect their lives and their livelihoods”, cash transfers to local communities being a central part of the plan.
Sirleaf stated that 4 billion dollars was the amount needed for the next two years to implement the sub-regional plans, however over 5 billion dollars was promised during the pledging segment of the conference.
Both Mugabe and Sirleaf called on the international community for a debt cancellation of 3.16 billion for the three countries, and Mugabe called on the private sector, especially those involved in extracting natural resources, to be socially responsible and engage in building economic resilience in their countries.
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