A high-powered African Union (AU) Assistance Team, which comprises of 28 medical professionals including doctors and clinicians arrived in Liberia over the weekend from across East and West Africa to assist in the fight against the Ebola disease ravaging West Africa.
The AU Assistance Team will serve under the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) and is in West Africa to render medical and humanitarian assistance mainly in the areas of training, epidemiology and psychosocial support to the three countries highly affected by the Ebola disease including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Speaking shortly upon arrival at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County, the head of the AU team, Maj. Gen. Dr. Julius F.Oketta said the AU team will be deployed in the three hardest hit countries with its Headquarters situated in Liberia.
A Foreign Ministry release says the team’s aim is to help the affected nations in curbing the virus. Maj. Gen. Oketta said the team’s mission will cover three phases, including providing-training, epidemiologist, and psychosocial support to the population.
While speaking to a team of journalists at the airport, the Head of AU team stressed, “With training, our people are all ready to be a part of the team that is managing the Ministry of Defense’s treatment unit along with the Cubans”.
Dr. Oketta further noted that the 28 medical personnel will be helping to beef up assistance at the Ebola Treatment Units (ETU’s). He revealed that within two weeks, the second batch of 35 personnel is expected in Liberia to total the number up to 70 personal who will assist in fighting the disease in Liberia.
Mr. Oketta asserted that some epidemiologists have already been deployed in seven counties in Liberia with majority assigned in Lofa and Nimba Counties. According to him, they will also focus on the areas of psychosocial support for Ebola Victims across the three affected countries.
Expressing optimism that the virus will soon be contained, he then hailed Liberians for “the attitude changes” towards the outbreak which he noted has help reduced the spread of the virus in Liberia.
“They have changed so fast to understand the situation; they make the work of the psychosocial team working with the government agency very good because the Government of Liberia has set up the pillars and we are supporting those pillars. We will also work with other international agencies to make sure that the country meets its objectives”, Mr. Oketta mentioned.
The ASEOWA’s boss added that they are working together to provide education while at that same time making sure that the people of Ebola affected countries understand that Governments and people around the world are concerned and cared about them as they battle against the deadly disease.
Dr. Oketta said the AU will always volunteer to offer training on social issue to local communities working with both medical and non medical aspects.“The need for doctors and nurses are enormous, we cannot fill in overnight, so the challenge is that AU will from time to time mobilize its member states and volunteers to come and support”, Dr. Oketta disclosed.
ASEOWA was born out of meeting of foreign ministers held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September and is expected to complement the efforts of on-going humanitarian assistance and coordinate support provided to the affected member states to augment field response operations. It will also support public awareness and preventive measures across Africa and specifically in the affected region.