The head of the African Union’s support to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Major General Dr. Julius Faeki Oketta, says though the AU had delayed in responding to West African countries affected by the deadly Ebola virus, it is committed to buttressing the efforts of those countries in combating the virus.
Speaking Tuesday, September 16 in a joint press conference with Liberia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Axel Addy in Monrovia, General Oketta, a Ugandan, said the AU is committed to rendering humanitarian support, and helping to coordinate government’s activities to stop the spread of the Ebola virus.
He clarified that the presence of the African Union in Liberia is not to operate a separate organization, but to be in solidarity with Liberia, which is a member of the AU and the international community.
Noting that the entire West Africa is faced with incredible challenge that needs the collaborative effort of all African States, Gen. Dr. Oketta, 57, said Liberia alone cannot combat the dangerous virus without assistance from other countries or international partners.
The Ugandan General noted that this is the first time for the virus to overtake three countries simultaneously in the same region and disclosed that the AU is sending 200 troops to the affected countries to assist in combating the Ebola virus.
He warned locals to do away with the perception that spiritual treatment by witch doctors can help to eradicate the virus, saying, the idea of going to native doctors when infected only makes the virus to spread, because native treatment and medical treatment don’t work at the same time.
Gen. Oketta said if Liberia must get healed from Ebola, every citizen should follow preventive measures prescribed by health care workers, because they are the only ones with sufficient knowledge on how to respond when a person is infected.
Among several positions held in his home country prior to being seconded by the African Union to West Africa, Maj./Gen. Oketta coordinated the military support to the Ebola operations in Gulu District, Northern Uganda.
He also served as Director of the National Emergency Coordination and Operations Center in the office of the Prime Minister of Uganda and member of the Ugandan Parliament as well as member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund in New York.