Health

ECOWAS sets up Rapid Response Team to help contain disease outbreaks

Ecowas Rapid Response Team

A four-day ECOWAS health resilience training programme to equip selected individuals from the fifteen West African states has ended in Accra.

The initiative is to create a Regional Rapid Response Team to tackle future disease outbreaks in the sub-region.

Member states of ECOWAS met in May last year to dialogue and take a strategic decision on how to control and contain diseases following the Ebola outbreak in the sub-region.

Member states agreed to establish a centre and a Regional Rapid Response Team.

The Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Edward Singhateh, urged participants of the ECOWAS Regional Rapid Response Team to share skills acquired to empower health practitioners in the sub-region.

The programme is to equip health participants from the fifteen member states to provide regional health security.

Edward Singhateh mentioned illiteracy, inadequate funding and lack of amenities as a major challenge to projects of such nature and charged participants to insist on the implementation of the training in their respective countries.

World Health Organisation Representative Dr. Ibrahim Soce Fall added that security in the sub-region is now threatened by an invisible foe.

“Our security is now threatened by an invisible and fast moving enemy, diseases with epidemic potential,” he said.

“As population move from rural hamlets to the opportunities of urban markets and social opportunity, disease also follow from remote forest canopies – jumping the animal-human divide – to the heart of our capital cities.

“As the army for health emergencies and outbreaks, the White Helmets have been empowered to be the standby force to strengthen national and our region’s capacity to investigate.

“By trying to track and halt infection, never forget that the people and their families that will count on you to treat their loved ones, need to be treated with respect and compassion.”

Liberia’s Deputy Minister of Health, Yah Zolia, stressed that the response to the Ebola Outbreak has helped improve integration and collaboration in building a Health Resilient system.

Representative for the Ministry of Health, Dr. Badu Sarkodie, hinted the ECOWAS Regional Rapid Response Team will be the first port of call to contain any disease outbreak in the sub-region.

“As demonstrated by the recent devastation caused by the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic and the current Zika Virus outbreak, a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere.”

By combating these threats locally through regional integration and solidarity, the ECOWAS Rapid Responders will advance health security not only in West Africa.

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which was launched in February 2014, is a growing global partnership that will build countries’ capacity to combat outbreaks of infectious disease epidemics in their early stages.

By Listowell Acquaye|TV3|3news.com|Ghana

Twitter: @3Newsgh

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