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AU solicits footballers’ help

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The African Union Commission has asked African footballers and athletes to provide financial support for Ebola affected African countries as infection cases hit over 10,000. “When we spoke with them, we want them to decide how they can support the countries that are worst hit either financially or having games that can get some financial resources to these countries,” said AUC Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Zuma.

Addressing a joint press conference with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently in the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, Dr. Zuma said the message was also to young people “because football is a very patronized game on our continent.”

She told reporters that the AUC was mobilizing more human resources from member states to contribute to the efforts of the international community to contain the virus. She said the AUC has already deployed a 36-member team of medical personnel to assist with the fight against Ebola under the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak Operations in West Africa.

According to her, the African Union is also in talks with Heads of States and heads of airline companies to have regional and continental airlines resume flights to Liberia, Sierra and Guinea, the three worst affected countries.

Though she noted that countries have expressed willingness to receive flights from affected countries, they are however demanding that screening at those countries’ airports be adequate. Considering the socio-economic challenges that Ebola have on affected countries, she said the AU is mobilizing the business community within the region to contribute to the fight against the disease.

Additionally, the AUC Chairperson warned that as a lesson from the Ebola crisis, Africans should develop their public health systems sufficiently so that they can respond to health crisis, citing economic development; health and education as key to preparing Africans for future crisis.

Dr. Zuma, who headed a 14-member delegation to Liberia last Thursday, said if there is no health and skills, there can be no economic development, thereby calling for human and financial capital in developing the economies of various states in Africa.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf earlier thanked Dr. Zuma for the AUC’s solidarity visit and support to Liberia, and said the visit provided Liberia the opportunity to congratulate and commend the AUC chair for her leadership role.

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