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The time is now

Realizing the danger Ebola poses tonhuman security, ECOWAS leaders, meeting in the Ivorian Capital, Yammoussoukro last week, emphasized and agreed for a concerted effort against the deadly disease. The decision by leaders of the regional body was against the backdrop of the recent presentations by the Foreign Ministers of Liberia and Guinea to the ECOWAS Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire on the extent to which the deadly disease has impacted their respective countries, as well as steps taken by their respective governments and partners to contain the outbreak.

Liberia’s Augustine K. Ngafuan, who had informed the Council about initial measures already in place in the country against the spread of the disease, noted that considering the contagious nature of the Ebola epidemic and frequent cross-border movements by citizens of Guinean and Liberia for trading and other purposes, it was important that ECOWAS and other international partners move quickly in assisting the two countries in containing the virus. While his Guinean counterpart told the Council that some preliminary measures initiated with a view to preventing the contraction and spread of the Ebola epidemic include quarantining those diagnosed of the Ebola Haemorraheagic fever; and discouraging the consumption of bats which are believed to be transmitters of the Ebola virus.

At the end of its 31st Meeting in Yamoussokro, Cote d’Ivoire on March 25, 2014, the Council underscored the need for a robust regional response in putting a halt to the further spread of the deadly scourge, calling on the President of the ECOWAS Commission, in consultation with the West African Health Organization or WAHO, to take appropriate and swift actions to mobilize stakeholders and needed resources to stem out the epidemic from the region. In a communique issued by the Mediation and Security Council, the Council also appealed to the International Community to assist the affected countries in the management of the Ebola epidemic in the region.

There is no doubt that the intervention by ECOWAS worth the highest commendation and support to the latter. The Foreign Ministers of Guinea and Liberia must also be hailed for the premium and vigor attached to this unfortunate health situation within the Mano River Union basin among ECOWAS members. Even though the ECOWAS Commission is already challenged to constructively engage international partners in actualizing the success of ECOWAS’ intervention, it is also incumbent on member states to commit substantial financial resources to the West African Health organization or WAHO to propel the battle against Ebola and its escalation. Such commitment will capacitate WAHO in collaborating with the Ministries of Health in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone against the disease.

While some international partners, including Medicins Sans Frontiers are already coordinating with the governments of the two countries, the ECOWAS Commission must keep knocking at the doors of its international bilateral and multilateral partners to ensure a successful battle against the deadly Ebola virus and disease, which is not only a serious threat to humanity in the Mano River Union basin, but the entire West Africa. Therefore, the Time Is Now for the concerted effort emphasized by ECOWAS Leaders against the fight against the spread of Ebola and its threat against humanity in West Africa.

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