The heads of state of the 3 countries most affected by Ebola (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea), appealed to the international community to continue the fight against the disease on Tuesday. The target to reach is “zero human cases” by the middle of April, insisted Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, at a conference in Brussels aiming to defeat the disease. After the epidemic reached a peak over the autumn with an average of 900 new cases per week, there was a decline and the number of new cases is now approximately 100 per week.
This progress, still very precarious in Sierra Leone and in Guinea, was the result of better collaboration in response to the hemorrhagic fever, pointed out Ernest Bai Komora, president of Sierra Leone. “Ebola is threatening the whole world,” he said, mentioning “a possible disaster of unfathomable proportions.”
Guinea president Alpha Conde focused on the weaknesses of health care systems in the countries affected. They explain how the disease managed to spread, and a plan to fight the epidemic must include the establishment of reliable health facilities, he added.
The economic recovery in the region featured prominently in speeches heard on Tuesday afternoon. Indeed, the epidemic was responsible for a downturn of 12% of GDP in affected countries. Mrs. Sirleaf suggested that a “Marshall Plan” should be set up for the region.
Approximately $4.9 billion have been pledged to eradicate the disease, of which almost half ($2.4 billion) has already been provided according to a European source.
At the same time, on Monday the IMF (International Monetary Fund) revealed it had decided to extend credit and grant debt relief for the $187 million owed by Sierra Leone. The aim is to “raise financial support from the international financial community” in order to fight the disease.
Since the start of the epidemic in December 2013, approximately 23,700 cases and 9,700 deaths have been registered.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)