International NGOs Task G20 Members On Ebola

A combination of international non-governmental organisations have at a joint meeting charged leaders of G20, the world’s 20 largest economies, meeting in Australia this weekend to urgently take concrete actions to end the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD.

The call was made yesterday by Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Plan International, Save the Children and WaterAid present in the three Ebola troubled nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

The group called on the G20 to immediately ensure that all the personnel, equipment and funding required to halt the Ebola outbreak are made available without any discrimination.

“G20 leaders must remember that in the context of a health emergency, such as the Ebola crisis, states have a legally binding obligation under international human rights law to provide assistance if they are in a position to do so,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

Cockburn added that, “The national and global response needs to scale up rapidly, and do so in a way that respects, protects and fulfills all human rights of patients, health workers and the community at large.”

A lot of campaigns have been carried out in Australia, Japan, Spain, the United States, US and the United Kingdom, UK by Amnesty International, Oxfam International, Plan International, Save the Children and WaterAid ahead of the summit.

The group said the Ebola epidemic has reminded the world of the “fragility of health systems in most West African states and the need for improved sanitation, clean water and good hygiene behaviors to be promoted in national policies and development plans,” enthused Mariame Dem, WaterAid’s Head of West Africa region.

“The international community needs to intensify efforts and external interventions must consider community led solutions that are sustainable. All these must be linked to a long term strategy that ensures that our health systems include behaviour change programmes that strengthen prevention strategies,” Dem urged.

Since the outbreak of the disease in Guinea in December 2013 and subsequent spread to other West African countries including Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia and Sierra Leone, over 5,000 death cases have been recorded.

Speaking during the press briefing also, Damien Queally, Plan’s Deputy Regional Director with overall responsibility for its Ebola response said, “The spread of the Ebola virus is affecting everyone. However, children are especially vulnerable as they witness disruption, death, panic and even stigmatisation. It is important that all Ebola strategies include child friendly responses, with the protection and well-being of children being paramount.”

Speaking on the need to join forces with countries that have sent in medical aids and personnel to fight the disease in the affected nations, Natasha Quist, Regional Director for Save the Children said, “Some countries are punching far above their weight, as demonstrated by Cuba’s quick deployment of healthcare workers, and Nigeria’s recent pledge to send 600 of their own.”

Thousands of children have already lost parents and loved ones, and the wider social, healthcare, and economic repercussions have been devastating.

“With new cases being confirmed in Mali, the international community must also bolster regional efforts to spread awareness and stop the outbreak in its tracks. Today, the battle is far from over and each of the G20 countries –not just a handful- must do their part,” Quist added.

“The window of opportunity to bring the spread of Ebola under control is closing fast. The G20 is in prime position to provide the leadership and resources desperately needed.

“Hiding behind the generosity of others is unacceptable if we are to tackle the immediate emergency and ensure the long-term recovery of the region,” Vincent Koch, Oxfam’s Ebola Operational Response Lead said.

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