Tanzania: Oxfam prods WB to lead efforts to raise US$1.7bn for Ebola-hit countries

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - The World Bank and international donors must find US$1.7 billion to improve dangerously-inadequate health systems in Ebola-affected countries and help prevent such a deadly epidemic ever happening again, international agency Oxfam said Thursday, on the eve of Ebola talks at the Bank’s annual spring meetings in Washington DC.

“The money is the minimum needed to make health care freely available to all in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and neighbouring Guinea-Bissau and would go towards paying for well-equipped facilities, sufficient trained staff and medical supplies and robust health information systems that build upon the stronger community networks now in place,” Oxfam said, noting that Guinea-Bissau has not yet had any Ebola case but is particularly at risk from porous borders and poor resources.

In its statement, made available to PANA here, the international agency said governments and donors must reverse years of neglect with a 10-year investment plan in free universal health care to ensure the countries are able to cope with future outbreaks.

Oxfam estimates it would cost US$420 million to train the 9,020 doctors and 37,059 nurses and midwives required to meet the World Health Organisation’s minimum standards of care and US$297 million annually to pay their salaries.

Oxfam International’s Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: “Communities pulling together has been vital to cutting Ebola infection rates. After a slow start, Oxfam recognised that and targeted its approach accordingly. But in order to be effective, these networks need to work within a strong national healthcare service that is freely available to all people.

“This is where the major donors must now step in,” she said. “Solid commitments are desperately needed now to address public health failures that have contributed to more than 10,000 deaths and to prevent another deadly epidemic.”

According to the agency, winning communities’ support has been critical in overcoming people’s misunderstanding and fear about the disease, and for that reason, it trained community volunteers to make house visits with information about symptom awareness, good hygiene and changing risky behaviour.

“One positive outcome of Ebola has been the rise of stronger new community networks that offer greater space for local people to be involved in decision-making,” Byanyima added. “But so far they have been excluded from the recovery planning. This must change. Donors should insist that community engagement is put at the heart of recovery plans. Community networks are also vital in helping to hold governments to account that the money is being well-spent.”

The aid agency has called for the international community to support the Ebola-affected countries to rebuild stronger public services, particularly in health and sanitation, and to help people recover from immediate psychological, social and economic impacts.

In Sierra Leone Ebola has created around 12,000 orphans and 180,000 people have lost their jobs. In Liberia half of all heads of household are out of work and 73% of people in three counties told Oxfam researchers in December 2014 that their incomes have plummeted.

Oxfam has so far reached 1.3 million people in West Africa working with communities to help prevent infection, supporting clinics, schools and people in quarantine with water and sanitation and helping communities to be better prepared for potential outbreaks.

International donors, the UN Secretary-General and finance ministers will meet Presidents of Ebola-affected countries on Friday (17 April) at a high-level meeting in Washington organised by the World Bank, to discuss their plans and funding needs to end the outbreak, recover from the crisis and strengthen essential systems to prevent another epidemic.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 16April2015

16 april 2015 08:13:26




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