By State House Communications Unit :
President John Dramani Mahama who also doubles as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a way of their assistance in the eradication of the Ebola virus provided 150 tons of food items such as rice, cocoa powder, vegetable cooking oil and other food stuff to the three worst-hit countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Sierra Leone President Koroma welcoming his Ghanian counterpart said that he was encouraged by the visit as this will be a break in the isolation policy by not only the sub-regional countries but also the international community. With this visit, President Koroma hoped that his counterpart will relay the message to the African countries and the international community that all is not lost and to further revisit their isolation policy and feel free to come and visit. He further stated that government has made tremendous efforts in putting up WHO required measures at the Lungi International Airport to help contain the spread of the virus.
President Mahama pointed out that he was encouraged with the increased knowledge and awareness of the Ebola disease and stated that with that knowledge, the disease will be contained. He added that with messages of people surviving the disease, it will encourage those that are infected to come forward and get the needed treatment, saying that if one has the required immune systems it will be able to mount the appropriate defence against the disease.
The Ghanaian President noted that his visit is a follow-up of the Health ministers meeting in Accra to streamline the response to the Ebola outbreak. Commenting on the cancellation of flights and the isolation of the three worst-hit countries, President Mahama stressed that Ebola is not transmitted by sitting next to an infected person and hoped to see a resumption of flights. This, he said has necessitated ECOWAS to come up with new guidelines that have been circulated to all the countries in conjunction with WHO in terms of a speedy response in that direction. He attributed the cancellation of flights to the panic reaction to the outbreak. He urged the members of ECOWAS to abide by the new guidelines in terms of their response to the outbreak.
President Mahama also said that at a time like this ostracizing a nation will compound the whole system because the cancellation of flights will undermine efforts that are being made to salvage the situation. He said that now that measures and systems are being put in place, he appealed to all international organizations that had made pledges to speed up the disbursement of funds to the affected countries in fighting the Ebola scourge.
President Mahama appealed to international organizations like WFP to start looking at food supplies considering the time of the outbreak when farmers have been unable to till the farms and supplying the needed food items to the people. He called on the international community to fly in experts and equipment to intensify the efforts to contain the disease. He noted that the fact that Sierra Leone has had more than 300 survivors was encouraging as this will help the heads of State to revisit the suspension of flights to those countries.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has announced that it will hold an emergency session on Thursday to discuss international efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic. The Ghanaian President has called for the easing of restrictions on West African Countries after measures such as flight bans had affected regional economies.
Speaking to President Koroma shortly after the meeting he told me that the visit offers a glimmer of hope for the Ebola affected countries, saying that it may be a mind changer after all the isolation by the international community.