New York

05 December 2014

Secretary-General's remarks at the Economic and Social Council Meeting on Ebola: A Threat to Sustainable Development

I thank the President of the Economic and Social Council for convening this important and timely meeting. 

Global solidarity has brought us a long way in addressing Ebola.

And, I join the President of ECOSOC in expressing my deepest condolences and sympathies to the affected people and governments of those countries.

With an even greater collective push we can end the outbreak, help the affected societies build back stronger, and safeguard our world against future risks.

Ebola has taken a devastating humanitarian toll in West Africa.

The virus has killed more than six thousand people.

Many more have died from other causes as fragile health systems have collapsed.

The stigma and fear associated with Ebola have also disrupted education, agriculture, industry and commerce within the affected countries. 

Families have lost income.  More than 3,300 children have been orphaned.

The social and economic impact has been broad and deep.

It will long outlast the outbreak itself. 

The three most affected countries have experienced significant development setbacks. 

Hard-won peace dividends are being eroded.

Before the Ebola outbreak, the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were vibrant and growing.

Now they are weak and stagnant.

Incomes are down.  Prices have risen. 

Markets are bare.  People are hungry.

That is why it is imperative that while we work to end the Ebola outbreak, we must also begin to focus on recovery. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Ebola has brought hard lessons – including the importance of functioning health systems and universal quality health coverage.

These must be critical elements of the post-2015 development agenda. 

Development can only be lasting when societies provide fundamental public services such as healthcare.

Communities need access to healthcare to treat easily preventable diseases. 

Pregnant women need pre-natal and maternal healthcare. 

Children need the best possible health to learn at school. 

Workers need good health to be productive. 

We need to build health systems capable of responding to emergencies and withstanding shocks such as Ebola. 

And the international scientific and medical research community needs to devote more resources to finding treatments and cures for diseases that occur in developing countries.

These treatments may not generate as much profit, but they will provide significant benefits for the world’s poorest people.

That is even more important to our collective future than any financial gain.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the Economic and Social Council for highlighting the importance of swift recovery so the affected countries can return to their previous development path. 

Mitigating the consequences of Ebola will demand a coordinated global response comparable to what is being provided to end the outbreak.

This Council has an important role to play in identifying actions that the international community can take.

It is central to promoting coherence throughout the United Nations system in support of common objectives. 

An integrated approach by United Nations entities, including the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, will strengthen the impact of our actions.

The people and Governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have suffered much and shown great resilience. 

They are counting on the international community to help end the Ebola outbreak and support their swift and full recovery. 

The international response to date has been unprecedented in its speed and generosity, but much more will be asked before this emergency is over. 

Today, let us resolve to do whatever it takes to assist the Governments of the affected countries to recover stronger and more resilient from the Ebola crisis. 

Thank you.