A six-day meeting of the 15th Ordinary Meeting of the Assembly of ECOWAS Health Ministers, under the auspices of the West African Health Organization or WAHO, is underway in Monrovia. WAHO, the specialized health agency of the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS, is holding the meeting in collaboration with the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare under the theme: Universal Health Coverage: issues, Challenges and Opportunities.
WAHO began its meeting since last Wednesday, while the ministers met on April 11 and 12, 2014 to discuss health issues in the West African sub-region-especially in the wake of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. The meeting brought together delegates from the fifteen countries of ECOWAS, the directorate of the West African Health Organization, partners, as well as the Ministers.
Welcoming the sub-regional Health Ministers to Liberia when she delivered her keynote address, in advance of their meeting on Friday, April 11, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf expressed the hope that as they met, the ministers and delegates would share with Liberia their own experiences that addressed deadly diseases such as Ebola, noting that their presence in the country has given a lot of confidence to Liberians and other residents that the situation was being managed.
While Liberians and their neighbors in Guinea and Sierra Leone deeply appreciate such intervention in the wake of the spread of the Ebola virus, especially just following the recent ECOWAS Heads of State Summit in the Ivorian political capital, Yamoussoukro when Liberia and Guinea officially reported the spread of the Ebola virus, it is hope that the outcome of the assembly in Monrovia will be speedily made practical.
As international partners, including the medical charity, Medicans Sans Frontiers, as well as the United States Government, WAHO and the governments of the ECOWAS countries will do everything humanly possible so that together with the partners, deadly health issues, including Ebola can be aggressively address to safe humanity in the West African Sub-region. As our international partners are helping us in the battle against Ebola, our governments must show some appreciation and commitment by directing some of their financial resources to such an urgent and necessary cause so as to further motivate international partners and donors to do even more. We must now begin to “rob our stomach, as our partners wash our backs,” instead of exhibiting the usual complacency after such an important meeting in Monrovia.
Other being a member of the international community, we must continue to express gratitude to our international partners and donors, including United States Government, the Bill Gates Foundation, George Soros Foundation, European Union, United Nations System, as well as the various international medical charities for their respective interventions in West Africa.
Back home in Liberia, we must hail the Minister of Health and Social Welfare and his entire team for the level of work against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia. Had it not been their steadfastness and commitment despite the wanton and un-necessary criticisms, probably due to ignorance among the population, we would have had the deadly disease spread all over the place. We can only hope that Minister Walter T. Gwanigale and team would continue to accept these criticisms as a challenge to make further progress in the battle against EBOLA.