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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid