Liberia could be declared Ebola-free in the coming days, President John Dramani Mahama has hinted. He said the country had almost been declared free from the Ebola virus disease a few days ago when one case popped up.
“But it has not spread beyond that case and so we are counting the mandatory 42 days again to declare that country Ebola-free,” he said.
President Mahama, who is the Chairman of ECOWAS, was interacting with two ministers from Germany who had called on him at the Flagstaff House yesterday.
Dr Gerd Mueller and Mr Hermann Grohe, the German ministers of Economic Co-operation and Health, respectively, were at the seat of government to discuss continued international assistance in the fight against Ebola.
Official figures from March 2014 up to March 2015 indicated that 10,460 deaths, including one in the US, six in Mali and eight in Nigeria, had been recorded.
Out of the number, 4,332 deaths were recorded in Liberia, 3,799 in Sierra Leone and 2,314 in Guinea.
Describing the latest news coming out of the three worst hit countries as very encouraging, President Mahama said Sierra Leone was also making progress.
“They did a recent knock down to try to prevent people from moving about in order to mop up the few cases left. So, all in all we hope that in the next several months we should be able to declare West Africa Ebola-free,” he said.
He attributed the success story to the collective effort of the people and the international community.
The next phase of the fight against Ebola was also crucial, the President said, adding that post-Ebola response for the most affected countries, especially in terms of their economies, must be taken seriously.
Making reference to statistics from the World Bank, he said the disease had accounted for a reduction in GDP of 4.6 per cent in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
For the rest of Africa, GDP loss amounted to about one per cent.
President Mahama said many international conferences which Ghana should have hosted were cancelled, even though the country was not affected by the disease.
He also called for debt cancellation for the three most affected countries and paid tribute to Ghanaian health officials who recently returned home after completing their work in the three countries, saying they came back with very good experience.
Panel of eminent persons
The President said a request he, together with the German Chancellor and the Norwegian Prime Minister, made to the United Nations Secretary General for the setting up of an international panel of eminent persons to tackle global crisis response to the disease had received a positive response.
“Just a few days ago I was very pleased to receive a response from the UN Secretary General accepting our proposal and indicating that the UN was going to work with us to set up the panel,” he said.
President Mahama thanked Germany and all international partners for their support in the fight against Ebola.
Both Dr Mueller and Mr Groche pledged Germany’s continued support to complete the task of controlling the disease in West Africa.
They said they were particularly interested in the post-Ebola period when a lot of work needed to be done.