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General News of Thursday, 25 September 2014

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Ebola is a world problem - Mahama tells UN

ECOWAS Chair and President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, Thursday took his fight against the deadly Ebola virus to the halls of the United Nations.

“Ebola is not just a Liberian problem, Ebola is not a Sierra Leonean or a Guinean problem; it is not just a West African problem, Ebola is a problem of the world because it is a disease that knows no boundaries,” he told World leaders at the 69th UN General Assembly in New York.

Mr. Mahama said the disease is wreaking havoc on the world’s economy and the battle against the virus should not be left to West Africa alone.

The Ebola virus is currently spreading across West Africa and is believed to have killed over 2,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria since the outbreak began in February, according to the World Health Organisation.

Addressing the 69th United Nations General Assembly Thursday, President Mahama, who is also the Chairman of ECOWAS said, “We cannot let fear keep us away, we cannot afford to let it compromise the very impulses that not only define but retain our humanity. We must erase the stigma.”

He was speaking on the ban on flights to Ebola-stricken countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.

He painted a grim picture of the situation in the worst affected countries; "On 15th September, in my capacity as the Chair of ECOWAS, I travelled to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. They are the three countries that have been most affected by the outbreak of Ebola. These are nations that were recovering from conflict, civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone that also adversely affected Guinea, which shares borders with both countries. These are nations that were struggling to rebuild their social and economic infrastructures. Even before the outbreak of Ebola, these countries were already operating with limited resources, with an insufficient number of treatment facilities and a shortage of qualified medical staff."

"What makes Ebola so dangerous," the president said, "is that the virus dares us to compromise the impulses that exist at the very core of our humanity: our impulse to comfort one another with love; to care for each other with the healing power of touch; and, to maintain the dignity of our loved ones even in death with a public funeral and properly marked grave."

In a touching address to the UN, President Mahama said, "Ebola is a disease of isolation. It leaves family members afraid to embrace one another, healthcare workers afraid to attend to patients, and it forces the living to abandon the cultural rites of washing, embalming and burying their dead. Instead, they are zipped into a secure body bag, carried on a stretcher by makeshift pallbearers in protective wear, then tossed into a freshly dug ditch."

He expressed regret that the international community's reaction to the Ebola scare has been too slow. "Just as individuals with Ebola are often shunned and ostracised by their communities, the initial slowness of response by the international community, in many ways, left the affected countries to suffer their fate alone."

Calling for a change the world's response to the disease, the president said, "We cannot afford to let fear keep us away. We cannot afford to let it compromise the very impulses that not only define, but retain our humanity. We must erase the stigma." To that end, Ghana has offered the use of its capital city, Accra, as a base of operations for activities geared toward the containment of the disease. I would like to commend UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and the Security Council for establishing the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). I would also like to acknowledge and commend President Barack Obama and the people of the United States of America for their enormous commitment to the fight against Ebola.

He announced that "Ghana has offered the use of its capital city, Accra, as a base of operations for activities geared toward the containment of the disease."

He commended UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and the Security Council for establishing the United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

The President also praised US President Barack Obama "and the people of the United States of America for their enormous commitment to the fight against Ebola.?"