-Makes Solemn Commitment
In an effort to support early prevention, detection and control of epidemics in the sub region, the West Africa Health Organization has drafted the Monrovia Declaration.
The move is in continuation of efforts to strengthen the regional disease surveillance systems, the development and implementation of a sustainable capacity building strategy for field epidemiologists and the implementation of the regional coordination framework of the “one health approach”.
Making presentation of the draft Wednesday April 12, 2017 in Monrovia on behalf of heads of state and government of ECOWAS meeting, Liberia`s Minister of
Health, Dr. Bernice Dahn indicated the draft when approved address recurring epidemics including cholera, meningitis, measles, Lassa fever and yellow fever all of which carry high rate of morbidity and mortality.
She said the body is aware of that the risk of an outbreak of other epidemics as serious as the Ebola virus disease in the West African region is still real and that it is highly important for ECOWAS countries to be in a state of preparedness to design integrated strategies for prevention, response and control in line with the “one health approach”.
According to her, the draft Monrovia Declaration catalogued that the Ebola virus disease epidemic highlighted the weakness of the health systems of the region regarding their capacity and capability for early detection, prevention, control and response in the face of such epidemics.
Minister Dahn used the occasion to extend warm congratulation to the President of Togo, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, who is also ECOWAS regional coordinator for Ebola Response and Eradication, for his vision and quality of his leadership in combating the disease.
She also extended profound gratitude to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, current chairperson of the authority of ECOWAS heads of states and government.
The body makes a solemn commitment “to pay special attention to the necessary interventions required for the post-Ebola national health reconstruction systems of our countries, by ensuring their actual inclusion in the highest priorities of the health agendas of our respective states, to provide the necessary support for all member states of our community, in particular for countries which were most affected by the Ebola virus disease epidemic towards the implementation of national health systems` strengthening plans and towards the mobilization of adequate resources for that purpose.”
The draft Monrovia Declaration further “to actively support all regional strategies and interventions that fall within the priority goal of building capacities in the region and in the countries for early prevention, detection and control of epidemics by paying keen attention to the one health approach”.
Still on the commitment, the declaration also catalogued “to substantially maintain and increase the financial contribution of our respective states to the ECOWAS regional solidarity fund and to work resolutely towards the steady increase in the national budgets of our states earmarked for health in accordance with the Abuja Declaration adopted at the OAU summit of heads of state and government on HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and other related infectious diseases, held in Abuja, Nigeria from 24 to 27 April 2001.”
In a keynote address, the Togolese President lauded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the people of Liberia and all the experts that form part of the Monrovia conference as he promised to work with the regional body to actively solicit support for regional strategies and interventions that fall within the priority goal of building capacities for early prevention, detection and control of epidemics.
“The Ebola virus disease which threatens the region was an emergency, public health emergency. We will increase our advocacy to mobilize, strengthen, coordinate in developing health systems to reduce the burden of epidemics in the region,” President Gnassingbe emphasized.
Also in a special statement, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf welcoming the participants to the Monrovia conference pointed out that before 2014 all the three affected countries were making quite a bit of progress until the epidemic struck and it was quite an experience and lessons learned.
“The Ebola virus disease is a disease that we could not see, feel and neither touch. During this difficult moment Africa came together to fight this common enemy and the fact that doctors came from all over the world to prepare our capacity on a regional level demonstrates the resilient to put up a massive return effort to normalcy,” President Sirleaf added.
She said the three affected countries have now put into place resilient systems that can withstand any outbreak though the virus could return as records from across the world indicate.
President Sirleaf advised WAHO to carry the draft Monrovia Declaration to the coming summit of heads of states and governments for approval and subsequent endorsement.