By Jimmey C. Fahngon
A three-day international health conference on post Ebola virus disease in the sub-region has ended in Monrovia with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf indicating that threats of the virus still exist in the region.
Speaking Wednesday at the close of the meeting, the President said unlike during the Ebola outbreak in the region, the three most affected countries have put in place resilient health system that can withstand any outbreak.
But she was quick to point out that designing a system to deal with any outbreak is the first step, adding “we must make it functional.”
She said there exists a risk that the Ebola virus could return in the region considering its history.
Johnson-Sirleaf stressed the need for more investment in the health sector of countries in the sub-region so as to effectively deal with any epidemic outbreak.
The Liberian leader said the recent Ebola outbreak in the region raised serious question “about our preparedness and capacity to deal with it.”
She noted that following the Ebola outbreak and lessons learned, countries in the region are now prepared to adequately combat any such outbreak.
President Johnson-Sirleaf underscored the need for information sharing among countries in the sub-region relative to detecting, preventing and controlling future Ebola outbreak.
President Johnson-Sirleaf lauded ECOWAS, especially Togolese President Fuare Essozimna Gnassingbe, ECOWAS Ebola Coordinator for coordinating the fight against the virus.
In remarks, President Gnassingbe praised health practitioners in the affected countries and experts for risking their lives to save others, adding “these are the unsung heroes…”
He also praised Liberia for its resiliencein defeating the Ebola virus disease.
The Togolese President said the meeting will enable stakeholders in the region to derive a consensus that will fast track efforts and initiatives geared toward building a vibrant health system.
He said countries in the sub-region are under obligation to prepare themselves for any epidemic outbreak.
At the end of the meeting, delegatescalled for more attention to be given to the necessary interventions required for the post Ebola national health reconstruction systems of countries in the sub-region, by ensuring their actual inclusion in the highest priorities of the health agenda of member states.
They, among other things, committed themselves to substantially maintain and increase the financial contribution of member states to ECOWAS regional solidarity fund.