Brussels, 10 November 2014/ ACP: Official representatives of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries based in Brussels have made a joint call for an international conference to be organised by the ACP Group, the African Union and the European Union.
In a declaration adopted on 6th November, the ACP Committee of Ambassadors also urged member states to lift any travel and trade restrictions imposed as a result of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and called on airlines and shipping companies to maintain trade and transport links with the affected countries.
The declaration follows a high level symposium recently organised by the ACP Secretariat on the issue on 17 October. At the event, spokespersons from the worst hit countries – Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone – as well as others in the region, shared insights on how their countries were coping with the crisis, including expectations from the international community.
“Our urgent needs are, above all, to strengthen our health-related capacities. We must also assist in reinforcing our hospitals… [as well as] training specialists, nurses, doctors – this is a huge gap that we face,” said the Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, H.E Dr. Ousmane Sylla of Guinea, adding that the disbursement of aid funds also need to be expedited.
The symposium included statements and reports from pharmaceutical scientists and high officials from the World Health Organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the World Bank, the European Commission, UNICEF, UNOPS, Brussels Airlines, the Red Cross Society, and the ACP-CBL.
ACP Ambassadors reiterated in their declaration the appeal to the 79 member states of the Group for contributions to the efforts to control the spread of the virus, while also commending the support already received in solidarity from many ACP countries, particularly Cuba’s medical brigades.
They appreciated the work done so far by the international community, while urging further support for the implementation of synchronized cross-border interventions, as well as strengthened epidemiological surveillance, rapid assessment, social mobilization, and training of health personnel, among others.
“This current Ebola virus outbreak is no longer of a regional concern, but an international public health emergency,” states the declaration. “[It] constitutes a threat to global peace and security, and a public health risk of great proportions to the affected countries as well as other States.”
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