Abuja - The fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak must be tackled on the basis of scientific evidence, prevention and understanding of transmissibility.
This is according to Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
In an impassioned plea for collective targeted action, Lopes called on leaders to remember other historically significant outbreaks.
“We cannot afford a serious threat like Ebola to be de-contextualized - it brings us back to the stigmatization of Africa,” he said at the Extra-Ordinary Emergency meeting of the African Union Executive Council in Addis Ababa, Ethopia.
He noted that the economic and social consequences of misguided perceptions are already devastating and there are reported Ebola cases in seven countries, including Nigeria, with over 2 000 deaths and 20 000 estimated cases.
“For each African country putting in place draconian measures that are not medically justified, they have to think of themselves under the same measures in a not so distant future as a very likely possibility,” he said.
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Lopez pointed out that Ebola has been stopped every time an outbreak was announced and that there is a need to be bold about learning from the current mishaps that contributed to the emergency this time around.
He added that Africa has the right to be outraged as only 1 percent of the pharmaceutical research is devoted to diseases that affect Africa, which is 25 percent of the world’s burden.
“The reason influenza only kills about half a million a year or SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) only had about 12 percent death rate compared to Ebola’s 54 percent, is certainly the existence of a well developed capacity in Western or Southeast Asian countries. It is not because of the nationality or origin of the affected,” he stated.
Lopes made a resounding call for Africa stand ready for this challenge, “in the name of a true rising Africa.”
“Ebola is just the last episode in a long course on hysteria faced by the continent. This time around instead of succumbing to it Africans need to fight back,” he said.
– CAJ News