By State House Communications Unit
President of the Republic of Guinea and Chairman of the Mano River Union Professor Alpha Conde paid a one day working and solidarity visit to Sierra Leone to coordinate efforts towards the fight against the Ebola epidemic that has hamstrung socio-economic activities in the three worst-hit countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The two leaders exchanged views on specific issues based on common interest to both countries.
In a joint communiqué, both Heads of State discussed ways of cooperating and collaborating at all levels with a view to containing and eradicating the Ebola virus disease from the Mano River basin and, to pave the way for robust transitional as well as medium to long term socio-economic recovery programmes in the three affected countries.
President Koroma in his opening statement reported that as a result of the Mano River Union meeting in Conakry last year, the country has been implementing the national plan to the letter, adding that the country is making significant progress to the extent of moving towards registering zero new infections. The president also expressed the need to sustain efforts in terms of strengthening social mobilization and contact tracing activities, and emphasized the need for community people to continue to take ownership of the fight.
He observed that because of the proximity and movements between and among the three countries, it is significant at this point to pay greater emphasis on joint border support, collaboration and patrol. “Until Ebola is defeated in the three worst-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, any national success will be less meaningful and less sustainable,” he said.
Both leaders agreed to convene an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State of the MRU in Conakry, Guinea to further harmonize the national response plans and also put together a regional post-Ebola recovery programme.
President Alpha Conde in his statement said he was very happy to be in the country to give account of the progress made within the sub-region. He said that it was timely to develop a resilient health system and develop a budgetary exercise that will improve the economies of the three countries. The MRU chairman reiterated that the end of Ebola in one country is not the end of disease at all, and called for a national programme in strengthening the health, education, infrastructure and agriculture sectors of the three affected countries. He advised that the three countries should look at the crisis from a global perspective and speak with one voice to speedily bring an end to the outbreak.
As the country strives towards zero new infections, President Conde also emphasized the need to intensify surveillance activities in the three worst-hit countries to break the chain of transmission of the virus. The two Heads of State described the continued stigmatization and consequently, the imposition of travel restrictions and suspension of flight services and reiterated the need for those countries imposing travel and other restrictions to review their policies.
Giving a synopsis of government’s efforts in the fight against Ebola, Chief Executive Officer of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) Major (Rtd) Alfred Paolo Conteh expressed optimism that with the decline of new confirmed cases, coupled with the effective leadership of President Koroma, the fight against the virus will soon be over. He also noted that until the three countries register zero case for 42 days there will be no celebration.