14 Aug 2014 16:40pm
WINDHOEK, 14 AUG (NAMPA) - The African Union Commission (AUC) on Wednesday pledged US dollars one million (about N.dollars 10,6 million) to fight the Ebola virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
The AUC's Secretary for Information and Communication Directorate Sehenemariam Hailu said in a statement issued here by the AUC on Thursday that they pledge to support the ongoing continental and global efforts to turn the tide against the Ebola virus.
The AUC and the World Health Organisation (WHO) furthermore urged Member States to replenish the African Union (AU)s Emergency Fund and the WHO-managed African Public Health Emergency Fund to support affected countries.
Hailu said the AU will call for an extraordinary meeting of the Bureau of the 6th Conference of the AU Ministers of Health in September to lobby member States to replenish the African Union Special Emergency Fund for Drought and Famine, which will now also cover public health.
The meeting will coincide with a donors conference on the Ebola outbreak taking place in September 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to step up Africas efforts and to consolidate global support.
The AU established the African Public Health Emergency Fund in 2012, which is managed by the WHO, and more than US dollars 700 000 (N.dollars 7,4 million) has been spent from the fund since the Ebola outbreak began.
The first joint AU/WHO meeting of African Ministers of Health held in April 2014 in Luanda, Angola, issued a strong statement of solidarity, which is now translating into action with the contribution of US dollars 3.5 million by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and US dollars 200 000 by the Republic of Botswana to the ongoing efforts.
Hailu said the Ebola outbreak is providing the impetus to speed up the establishment of the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for early detection, preparedness and response.
It is expected that by early 2016 at the latest, the centre should be functioning as an institution of the AU.
The AU is also strengthening regional mechanisms to prevent and control animal diseases which can be spread across the borders, and diseases which can be transmitted to humans from animals.
These initiatives are being integrated into established institutional structures of regional economic communities and Member States in order to ensure political support and long-term sustainability.
Hailu said the West African Ebola Response Plan, developed by the WHO in conjunction with the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, requires more than US dollars 100 million for additional health personnel, supplies and support to coordinated action.
Surveillance systems and community education also need to be strengthened urgently to stop the epidemic.
The current epidemic is the biggest and most complex which the world has experienced since the first human outbreak occurred in 1976.
The current epidemic has a total of 1 848 suspected cases, with 1 013 deaths reported by the WHO as on 09 August 2014.