Ethiopia: AU says gains against Ebola encouraging

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - As civil society organizations express concern over fulfillment of pledges, the African Umiom (AU) Wednesday said situations in the three Ebola affected countries were improving.

"Number of daily cases are declining in the three countries with Liberia leading the way, the most gains in battling the viral disease," Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs of the African Union, announced on Wednesday.

Current trends signal a positive prospect for the three countries -- Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone -- most affected by the virus, he said, indicating that "it shouldn't be too long" before they were declared Ebola free.

"The way things are looking [in] Liberia we are hearing, very soon they may probably even get to a point where they will make such an announcement," Kaloko told journalists at a press conference on the sidelines of the 24th AU Summit.

Kaloko’s department spearheads AU efforts against the Ebola disease and works to mobilize support for the affected countries from around the continent and beyond.  

The AU has crafted various approaches to channel funds and technical support to the three hardest hit countries. As part of that, the AU plans to launch an 'Ebola Solidarity Fund', Kaoko announced.

The announcement comes as several civil society organizations (CSOs) stress that the AU needs to ensure pledges made by various countries are made available.

The AU Ebola fund will be launched Friday, the second day of the AU summit, which brings leaders of the 54-member continental organization together for the first of their bi-annual meetings in 2015.

The AU has already mobilized hundreds of health workers from member states and deployed them in the three countries under the AU Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) mission.

In November 2014, the AU, the African Development Bank and regional business leaders set up a crisis fund to help areas hit by the Ebola outbreak, with some US$28 million pledged.

"It is time for Africa to mobilize its own resources in support of its development and take charge of its own destiny," AU Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said Wednesday.

But CSOs say the AU needs to do more to make sure the pledges come in soon.

“Most of the pledges made by nations across the globe to combat Ebola in the affected countries have not yet been fulfilled,” said ONE in a statement it issued at the AU headquarters on Tuesday.

ONE has set up an online Ebola tracker tool which allows the public to follow whether pledges are fulfilled and hold countries accountable through petitions.

The worst outbreak of the virus in history has seen about 9,000 deaths in a year sparking a major health scare worldwide.

“We are talking about places where they were reporting about 100 cases a day but now we are going to zero or under five cases. That’s a very great improvement...I will say very soon we will hear some very good news from the three countries,” Kaloko said.
-0- PANA OR/AR 28Jan2015

28 january 2015 17:05:35

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