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West African Leaders Vow ‘Zero Ebola Infections’ in 60 Days

FILE - Three Mano River Union leaders.

Leaders of the Mano River Union (MRU), comprising Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, have committed themselves to achieving “zero Ebola infection” within 60 days.

The announcement came at the end of a summit in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, which brought together the leaders of all three countries. Presidents Alpha Conde of Guinea, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone were joined by Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Charles Koffi Diby.

Sierra Leone government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay said the leaders emphasized the importance of infection prevention control, social mobilization and cross-border collaboration.

“Already we are using all the efforts at the national level, which is mobilizing all the contacts, doing more surveillance and social mobilization and to make sure that there is effective surveillance put in place between, and among, these respective countries in the Mano River Union,” Bayraytay said.

He said the leaders agreed that by effectively controlling their national borders, they will be able to catch new infections before it can spread.

Bayraytay said the leaders also agreed to implement a post-Ebola socio-economic recovery plan with emphasis on building their crumbling healthcare systems.

“That is a point that was even raised, that we are now going to implement the World Banks Africa Development Initiative, which is going to deal with how to further strengthen the respective healthcare systems in the countries that are hardest hit by Ebola,” Bayraytay said.

Public investment

A statement put out by Sirleaf’s press secretary said the sub-regional leaders agreed that in support of post-Ebola recovery, member states will allocate a proportion of their public investment in local small- and medium-Scale enterprises.

They believe that this decision will improve the resilience of their economies by supporting national product4ion and creating employment opportunities.”

Bayraytay said the Mano River Union leaders also called on the international community to help in achieving their goal of “zero Ebola infection.”

He said the leaders appointed Sirleaf as their spokesperson at a March 3 European Union Ebola Conference scheduled in Brussels.

“We are going to Brussels as a further testimony that all the plans we are putting in place as a sub-region cannot come to fruition if we do not have the unflinching support of the international community,” Bayraytay said.

Bayraytay said the Mano River Union leaders were heartened by comments made by the coordinator for the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who reiterated the UN’s unwavering support for the fight against Ebola.

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