News / USA

African Ambassadors in US Seek Ebola Help at Summit

Delegates to the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum gather for a meeting at the World Bank in Washington, Aug. 4, 2014, as the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit gets underway.
Delegates to the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum gather for a meeting at the World Bank in Washington, Aug. 4, 2014, as the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit gets underway.

As the U.S.-Africa summit unfolds in Washington this week, interviews with two ambassadors demonstrate the challenges the continent faces, including dealing with deadly resurgence of the Ebola virus.
 
The specter of Ebola has overshadowed months of planning for the U.S.-Africa summit for Liberia, which has been hard-hit by the deadly virus.
 

Ebola Factbox

Outbreaks of Ebola are life-threatening and in up to 90% of cases, people die.

  • In most instances, outbreaks have occurred in remote villages of Central andWest Africa, close to tropical rainforests
  • The virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads human-to-human through exposure to organs, blood and other bodily fluids
  • Presently no specific treatment or vaccine is available for people, nor for animals

Content sourced from World Health Organization

 

Liberian Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh plans to use the summit to highlight a desperate need for international assistance. The unusual grip of an Africa virus on a faraway summit illustrates what Sulunteh termed  “the alarming situation” in an interview.
 
“We hope that other leaders in Africa will see this as issue of urgency,” Sulunteh said, in a plea for medical supplies and other regional and international help in combating Ebola.
 
“The health issue is so alarming that we will want President Obama to look into this critically and also tell other African leaders--and other leaders of the world that this not a Liberia situation, but has a chance of affecting other” countries,” he said.
 

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Ebola has largely hit not only Liberia, but Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa. There are great concerns it could become another international epidemic like SARS or the avian flu if not eradicated.
 
“The virus is something that spreads so fast,” Sulunteh said. “We don’t want it to have a spillover effect in other parts of the continent and in other parts of the world.”
 
The overarching theme of the summit is investing in the next generation in Africa, backed by a number of other regional concerns. But Ebola has now surged its way onto the agenda from Liberia’s viewpoint.
 
“While we discuss peace and security, trade and investment and other bilateral issues, the health of the nation is very essential as African leaders have this summit in Washington,” Sulunteh said. “Especially at the rate at which Ebola is spreading in Liberia.”
 
One of the summit’s “signature events” as defined in a White House document involves investing in African health issues.
 
“The campaign from Liberia will be on the Ebola issues when we talk about health,” Sulunteh said.
 
Such health crises require a wide-ranging approach that discussions at the summit can help promote, said Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States.
 
A U.S. aid program called PEPFAR has helped battle HIV/AIDS. Technological advances have been made in the fight against malaria in Africa, he said.
 
“This summit is at least the recognition that globalization is a comprehensive force,” Rasool said.
 
A national health crisis becomes a “global emergency” in today’s times, he added.
 
“You can have the best health early warning system in the United States, but if you don’t pass the …technology to Africa to fight Ebola, you are endangering yourselves as well,” he said.
 
US assistance

The United States announced last week that it was sending 50 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) experts to West Africa to fight the spread of Ebola.
 
Rasool said technology, such as satellite tracking can make a long term difference.
 
“We need to emerge from the summit with a systemic approach,” he said. “It is not just selling drugs to Africa. It’s creating a system that warns you of impending diseases,” he said.
 
In the meantime, Liberia’s Sulunteh found his country so hard hit by the Ebola virus that last week it was virtually begging for low-tech, basic medical needs.
 
“This is a national emergency and it needs attention in the way of appropriate medical supplies,” he said.
 
Doctors, nurses and aides have been hampered by in their efforts because of the shortage.
 
“There is a need for more strong antibiotics,” Sulunteh said. “There is a need for more safety gear that health care workers can use.”
 

President Sirleaf address nation on EbolaPresident Sirleaf address nation on Ebola
x
President Sirleaf address nation on Ebola
President Sirleaf address nation on Ebola

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is staying home to deal with Ebola crisis in Liberia and “to find the resources to fight Ebola,” Sulunteh said, while he and the rest of the Liberian delegation will raise awareness at the summit this week.
 
Sulunteh was diplomatic in noting that Liberia is grateful for the assistance from the United States and others.
 
But Liberia will use the Africa summit to ask the international community to “step up” their efforts, he said.
 
“The message is to all the African leaders that are coming and President Obama, the host,” Sulunteh said. “They have been helping, but we need more.”


Lee Michael Katz

Lee Michael Katz is an award-winning journalist, analyst and author.

Currently a prominent freelance writer, Katz is the former Senior Diplomatic Correspondent of USA Today and International Editor of UPI News Service.He has reported from more than 60 countries.  Katz’s expertise includes foreign policy and diplomacy, peace talks, national security, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction policy, foundation grants, business and financial topics.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid