‘Isolation Should Not Be Ostracization’, Ghanaian President Mahama Urges International Community

President John Dramani Mahama on Monday 15th September urged the international community to revisit the ostracization of Ebola affected countries.

“Isolation is sometimes important in terms of quarantining people and keeping them away from infecting others. But isolation should not be ostracization. I guess what is happening to the affected countries is ostracization. We can ostracize a population, and so we need to take a look at all that again,” President Mahama said.

He stated that the Ebola outbreak had already affected the economy of the sub-region, especially agricultural production which is expected to spiral, whilst calling on international organizations such as World Food Programme (WFP) to begin to plan now to respond with food aid in order to avert any possibility of famine in some places where people have not been able to adequately till the land and be able to produce enough food to feed themselves.

“For the countries affected you know some food support is required for the treatment centers, for feeding people in the treatment centers and for feeding people who have been quarantined so that they are able to get the kind of nutrition that is necessary to give them a chance at recovering. It was as a result of that, as a token we put together 150 tons of food support (including rice, cocoa powder, vegetable cooking oil and other food stuff) which we have brought to the three countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” he said.

On the international humanitarian response to the outbreak, President Mahama emphasized that the longer the international community procrastinates in making the logistics and supplies available the more danger the world faces in terms of the spread of the disease. As Chair of ECOWAS, he appealed to all the international organizations that had made pledges to speed up the role out of making sure that those resources are available in the affected areas so they can fight the Ebola scourge.

The Ghanaian leader observed that some of the very bureaucratic procurement processes that are associated with the utilization of support from the international community should be curtailed. “Yes we need to maintain transparency, yes we need to maintain accountability, but at the same time let’s try and see if we can speed up the procurement processes so that the resources that are needed are available to the countries.

He also appealed for health workers and volunteers to be flown in, and thanked the international community for the solidarity, whilst reiterating the need to speed up making resources available to contain the outbreak. The Ghanaian President commended his counterpart and people of Sierra Leone for the courage in confronting the disease, saying that the problem was the initial denial of the people that Ebola exits.

With respect to the suspension of flights to Ebola affected countries, President Dramani Mahama explained that most of the airlines suspended their flights because of the concern of their crew due to the panic which was the initial reaction to the outbreak. “Now that people have an understanding that you won’t get Ebola by sitting in an airline seat next to an infected person, there is more understanding and we should be able to see a resumption of flights.”

Welcoming his Ghanaian counterpart, and Chairman of ECOWAS, President Koroma described the visit as encouraging and a break in the isolation policy meted out to countries afflicted with the deadly Ebola virus disease by not only sub-regional partners but also members of the international community. “We hope that with this visit our regional friends and brothers will feel free to come and visit us. We hope that at the end of this visit you will go back and assure them that all is not lost,” President Koroma said.

The President outlined government’s preparedness and response strategy since the outbreak in May this year, and appealed to the international community to boost government’s efforts in containing the outbreak. He thanked President Mahama and the people of Ghana for the donation of food items to ameliorate the situation in quarantined areas.

President Koroma further noted that Sierra Leone has adopted measures in accordance with WHO standards at the Lungi International Airport to ensure Ebola is contained. This, he said, is assurance that international flights are safe doing business in the country.

Source : Government of Sierra Leone

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