He observed that international response to the deadly outbreak has tremendously helped the three most affected West African nations to fight the disease.“The news coming out of the three most affected countries is much more encouraging and pleasant…because of our successful fight against Ebola,” he remarked.
President Mahama noted that the re-opening of the Liberia-Sierra Leone border is an indication that the virus is gradually being eradicated.
He expressed the hope that “within the next several months, we should be able to declare West Africa Ebola free and I think it is largely due to the collective efforts of all of us especially, the international community.”
The President made the remarks when the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and the German Minister for Health paid a courtesy call on him at the Flagstaff House.
He commended Germany for the critical role it played in the Ebola fight saying, “we’ve all seen the big cargo planes standing at our air base that keeps lifting equipment and personnel back and forth between the Ebola countries and Accra which has been the logistical center. But for that rapid response, we would have had a catastrophe here in West Africa.”
Since the outbreak of the deadly virus in early 2014, over 9,000 cases were recorded in the West African sub-region while over 4,000 people lost their lives.
Economic activities grinned to a halt as all attention and efforts were concentrated on containing the disease.
The three most affected nations; Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are still battling the disease although significant improvement has been recorded.
Post Ebola response needed
Despite the giant strides made in the Ebola fight, President Mahama has pointed out that the affected nations will still need support to get their economies running again.
He acknowledged that the international community has been gracious in battling the disease, but insisted that more help is needed.
“The next phase is the post Ebola response to the three most affected countries. Ebola has taken a very serious toll on them in terms of their economy. As the World Bank said, it has accounted for a reduction of 4.6% in GDP.”
According to him, the rest of African economies were badly hit as well since it has been estimated that there was a loss about 1% of GDP.
Citing Ghana as an example, President Mahama said: “I know a lot of conferences and tourist groups that cancelled their trips to Ghana even though Ghana was not affected by Ebola.”
He described the latest news on the Ebola outbreak as “good news for the whole of West Africa” but he was quick to add that “the three most affected countries need the help of the international community to increase the resilience of their response in future to any such attacks by improving their public health systems.”
One of the priorities, he said should be the building of a robust public health system and also give them some debt write offs so that they can re-engineer their economies and bounce back on their feet.”
He thanked Germany and all the other international partners for their participation in the international response which has led to our successful fight against Ebola.