Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the round table on the Ebola outbreak, in Addis Ababa today:
Thank you for organizing this working lunch. This Ebola outbreak is the largest the world has ever known. More than 21,000 people have been infected. Some 8,500 have died. I saw the evidence myself when I visited Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali a few weeks ago. People’s lives and livelihoods have been devastated.
A global coalition of Governments, regional organizations, civil society actors, businesses, development banks and philanthropic foundations has committed generously to stop the spread of this cruel disease.
The African Union has been on the frontlines. Member States have contributed resources, expertise and supplies, and deployed hundreds of health workers. The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has identified hundreds of doctors for training and deployment. And the Mano River Union is supporting cross-border cooperation.
We are now at a critical stage. Some may even call it a turning point. In the past four weeks, there has been a decline in new cases. This is no longer a single outbreak spreading from a central point. The blazing bushfire has been scattered. Now we must extinguish the embers.
Ebola will not be gone from any country, until is gone from every country. Those fighting Ebola must hunt down and eliminate the virus through rigorous contact tracing. They must build local capacity to detect new cases as soon as they emerge. This grass-roots engagement is painstaking and expensive.
Success in the affected countries will also mean repairing the damage caused by Ebola. Children need to go to school, farmers need to return to their fields, markets and businesses must reopen. And everyone needs reliable, affordable health care.
This outbreak has shown us how important robust health systems are, for the safety and stability of our interconnected world. The United Nations is working with communities and Governments.
Last week, the United Nations appealed for an additional $1 billion to fund efforts to end the outbreak as quickly as possible, and support rapid recovery. The AU [African Union] support to the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a courageous, ground-breaking and effective initiative. The UN is proud to be a supporter. I have asked my Special Envoy and Special Representative to follow up.
African Union Member States have contributed generously to the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, and to the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] Solidarity Fund for Ebola. And Africa’s private sector is playing an important role, providing significant financial and material resources. In particular, I commend the “Africa Against Ebola” campaign and the mobile phone text message mechanism, which enables people in 42 African countries to contribute to the fight against Ebola.
I also welcome the creation of a fund under the auspices of the African Union Foundation and managed by the African Development Bank for private sector donations. I acknowledge the generous contribution already received.
I commend your initiative to establish the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, to build Africa’s capacity to deal with future public health challenges. I am greatly encouraged by the solidarity shown by Africa — its Governments, businesses and people. When we all pull together we can make headway, no matter how strong the current against us.
I thank you for organizing this lunch, and wish you every success in your efforts to defeat Ebola and help the affected countries build back stronger than ever. I assure you of the United Nations’ support. Thank you.