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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says Ebola will not derail the determination of affected African countries to make progress in developing their respective nations.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader made the assertion when she welcomed participants attending a meeting on cross-border collaboration on the control of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting brought together national leaders on the Ebola response from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Cote D'Ivoire, Senegal, Nigeria and host Liberia. It was organized by the Liberian Government and the United Nations Mission for the Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).
Delegates examined key issues in the cross-border transmission of the virus and sought to create opportunities for closer cooperation between the affected countries and the Ebola response.
Speaking at the opening, President Sirleaf thanked Liberia's response team and UNMEER for initiating the meeting and the participating countries for attending.
She reflected that the three most affected countries have common history, culture, tradition and a common war against the Ebola virus disease. “We are dealing with an unknown enemy that we did not know, and we had a common determination to overcome our challenges when Ebola came. However, Ebola will not be the one to derail our progress,” President Sirleaf assured participants.
The Liberian leader observed that inhabitants of the region have been both victims and victors because they were gravely affected by the virus and played a major role in beating back the transmission. She stressed that reaching a 'zero new case' status will also require their total involvement and cooperation.
President Sirleaf expressed the hope that the meeting will enable the participating countries to share information and experiences on what the people in their respective countries have been doing including their sorrow, joy, determination, etc.
Speaking earlier, the UN Secretary General's Special Representatives and Head of UNMEER, Anthony Banbury told the meeting that an effect on one country represents an effect on all as far as the Ebola outbreak in the region was concerned.
“We have to work to change the operation to the most effective way that considers a more regional approach in the response. We need smart, practical, and creative ways to fight the disease,” Mr. Banbury stressed, adding, “We must do it a different way than the ways we have responded to AIDS, other diseases and disasters.”
The UN Secretary General's envoy thanked Liberia for the excellent initiative of hosting a joint meeting of the affected countries and others in the region and urged the countries to ensure that the response matches the risk and threat posed by the Ebola virus disease. “We must tailor our efforts to have the most effective regional response and impact,” he pointed out.
Special presentations by the heads of delegation of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali were made setting out the epidemiological situation report, strategy for controlling Ebola virus disease transmission, cross border strategy and intervention for Ebola virus disease control, amongst others.
A special presentation on “getting to zero” with emphasis on lessons from Nigeria's response was made by the delegation from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.