Ministers and high level officials from countries most affected by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), including Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have attended the International Conference on Africa’s Fight Against Ebola held from July 20-21, 2015 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The African Union Commission (AUC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mano River Union (MRU), United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA), United Nations Agencies and development partners also met on the margins of the conference held on the theme, “Africa helping Africans in the Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction”.
Liberia was represented by the Head of the Liberia Medical and Dental Council, Dr. John Mulbah. According to UNFPA, the conference was aimed at bringing collective response to the important challenges related to the impact of Ebola on maternal, newborn and adolescent health as well as youth development within the framework of harnessing the demographic dividend for sustainable development.
Based on ongoing experience of the Mano River Maternal Health Response – generously funded by the Government of Japan, participants discussed the national response with regards to health systems and associated human resources for health such as midwifery; health systems strengthening and resilience regarding maternal, newborn and adolescent health as well as key health systems building blocks to foster resilience.
“The Mano River Maternal Health Response (MRMR) is an initiative that has given hope to the three countries most affected by Ebola. The initiative has brought hope to many women, who could not access maternal health services during the peak of the EVD epidemic. Its continuation is strongly encouraged for the well-being of women and youth in the region”,said the Minister of Health of Guinea, Dr. Colonel Remy Lamah.
He praised UNFPA for ensuring that women continued to access health services even at the peak of the EVD outbreak.
UNFPA Director for West and Central Africa, Mr.MabingueNgom, stressed the importance of “Country-led multiple partnerships, with the right mix of stakeholders, leading to both short and long-term success”.
The African Union Commission represented by the Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Mustapha SidikiKaloko, highlighted the fact that the MRMR builds on cross border realities, adding, “The MRMR is very useful and relevant today and is an opportunity to address the impact of EVD on Maternal Health and contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2063”.
As part of their major contribution to the outcome of the conference, which focuses on post-Ebola recovery and reconstruction, the High Level Ministerial Dialogue concluded by adopting a Call to Action, aimed at positioning the MRMR as a key country-driven initiative to effectively strengthen national health systems, especially human resources for health including midwifery.
The Call to Action also recognizes the need to mobilize additional resources to address the critical issue of maternal health by investing in the training of health workers and addressing specific needs of communities in accessing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning services.
It described the initiative as an innovative partnership, which is a manifestation of the affected countries’ desire to build resilient health systems especially, the need to address the central issue of human resources for health as a catalyst to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).