West African health ministers join fight against Ebola

Alaturka Saglik Haberleri

By Rodrigue Forku

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AA) – Health ministers from the West African country of Guinea and neighboring countries have agreed on a unified front to combat the deadly Ebola virus that resurfaced about three weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Office said on Wednesday.

In a statement, it said the agreement was reached during a meeting in Guinea's capital Conakry, chaired by the prime minister of Guinea, Dr Ibrahima Kassory.

“If in 2014 Guinea and the neighboring countries were victims of Ebola, this time around Guinea and the region are resolutely facing up to Ebola,” Kassory said.

WHO said the ministers agreed to set up a coordination mechanism, enhance cross-border collaboration, work with communities, and support efforts in containing the deadly virus.

First discovered in 1976, the disease caused global alarm in 2014 when the world's worst outbreak began in West Africa, killing more than 11,000 people and infecting an estimated 28,600 as it swept through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The health ministers also agreed to facilitate import regulations for vaccines and drugs as well as promote measures that were effective in bringing the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa under control.

“We are greatly encouraged by the common front taken by Guinea’s neighbors to tackle this outbreak. We know from experience how much this is critical in fighting Ebola,” said Dr Abdou Salam Gueye, the regional emergency director at WHO Office for Africa.

“With close cross-border trade and social ties, we cannot ignore the importance of regional approaches against health crises,” he added.

A new Ebola virus outbreak was declared in the West African country on Feb. 14. The country has recorded several cases and deaths and over 500 contacts of which 100% are being monitored, and vaccinated 1,317 people, according to the UN health agency.

Early February, authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo also announced the reappearance of the Ebola virus, a tropical fever that is transmitted to humans from wild animals, in the eastern part of the Central African country, more than two months after the end of the last outbreak.

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