By Augustine Osayande
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for regional solidarity against outbreak of Ebola virus in the region.
Vice-President of the regional body Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, described the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as not only a health emergency but a “destructive element” in the region’s march towards socio-economic development.
Speaking at a forum organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja to brief the international community on the Nigerian Government’s response to the epidemic, McIntosh said “this is a community challenge that can only be faced through solidarity, working together and integrating our responses”.
The disease has claimed more than 900 lives since its outbreak in the region in
March 2014, with most of the deaths reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and at least two in Nigeria.
The vice-president used the opportunity to convey the condolences of the Commission to families of deceased community citizens and the affected Member States. He congratulated the Nigerian government for its vigorous response to the outbreak.
“We are saddened and grieved by the loss of lives from the outbreak and stand by any action taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria in response to the outbreak.”
He informed the gathering that a Solidarity Fund has been set up to enable the region combat the outbreak and expressed optimism that development partners would contribute to the Solidarity Fund.
The vice-president said as precautionary and preventive measures, the Commission has suspended its meetings involving officials from Member States while it’s Lagos Liaison Office has been disinfected.
He said the Commission has also set up an inter-institutional Task Force to coordinate its internal responses with various measures also put in place to protect staff.