The disease is wide in scale and virulent without

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The disease is wide in scale and virulent. Without fast, well-adapted and coordinated responses, the EVD epidemic rapidly snowballed into an unprecedented development crisis, with significant consequences in a region whose population already has one of the world’s highest poverty rates and lowest human development indicators, and is extremely vulnerable to shocks. Even if the epidemic is contained in the three most affected countries, a long-term propagation of EVD in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will have a substantial impact on all West African economies. The relatively free movement of goods and people in the region makes it very difficult to contain the outbreak. For instance, people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and across borders are able to move freely due to the long-term communal relationship, the exceptional porous borders, and the possibility of using a common Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) passport in official designated ports of entry. Fluid cross-border movement aided the spread in two ways. First, it has made cross-border contact tracing very difficult. Second, as the situation in one country begins to improve, it attracts patients from neighbouring countries seeking better health care, which has re-ignited the transmission chains. The close community ties and movement within and across borders of West African states and the limited internal capacity to cope with the outbreak in terms of human, financial, operational and logistics capacity call for a regional approach. An individual country study would only show the intensity of the outbreak; a regional approach would provide a holistic dimension to the issues, which could provide guidance in preventing a future occurrence in the affected and unaffected countries. The health and sanitation infrastructure in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is well below the average for Africa, especially in rural areas. 2 The intensity of the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone makes it difficult for individual countries to cope, even if there is a strong internal capacity. The sporadic spread of the EVD could be likened to the past civil wars in these countries, which were effectively countered by regional and international efforts. The incidence of Ebola has weakened the highly promising economic recovery witnessed over the past decade. The emerging loss of confidence in governments and their capacity to provide basic services could threaten social cohesion, which could relapse into the protracted social and economic abyss of the past with serious implications on regional stability. The past conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone 2 This was acknowledged during a two-day emergency meeting convened by the WHO of Ministers of Health of the affected countries and other selected countries and partners, in Accra, Ghana, from 2 to 3 July 2014. A common strategy was adopted outlining priority actions to halt the spread of Ebola virus in the region.
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  • Fall '19
  • West Africa

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