New York

10 July 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at the International Ebola Recovery Conference [as delivered]

Thank you, Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP, for moderating this very important meeting.

I would like to thank the Presidents of the affected African countries – the President of Guinea, the President of Liberia, and the President of Sierra Leone – and I would also like to thank President Mugabe [of Zimbabwe] who is participating in his capacity as President of the African Union.

And I would also like to thank Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO [World Health Organization] for her leadership.

Thank you all Ministers and dignitaries who have taken such very valuable time to be with us, to be with the people of Africa particularly affected by Ebola.

I think we can overcome this one, and I think we are now overcoming it but we have to go until the end, until we see the last patient cured and there will be no further cases.

I would also like to thank the World Bank President, and the IMF Managing Director and the many international and regional development banks, including the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Union.

It is a great honour to have you. Thank you for accepting my invitation to participate and to show your solidarity for the people affected by this Ebola virus.  

Excellence, Mesdames et Messieurs,

Merci de participer à cette conférence internationale sur le relèvement après l’Ebola.

La tâche qui nous attend est immense: il s’agit de concrétiser nos promesses de solidarité concrete, tournés vers l’action.

Je vous demande de vous joindre à moi pour apporter un soutien durable aux populations des pays touchés par l’Ebola.

Let me begin by thanking the many donors who have come together, along with governments, civil society organizations, national and international responders, development banks and foundations, as part of a broad-based global coalition to support the nationally-led response efforts.

I applaud the African Union and its plan to convene an International Conference on Africa’s Fight against Ebola later this month in Malabo.

I commend the African Union for galvanizing African leaders, businesses and communities in solidarity with the affected countries. This regional unity has been essential to bringing the outbreak under control – and will be critical to effective recovery.  I commend the more than 800 African volunteers who deployed through the AU Ebola support mechanism.

I also thank the countries that answered my call to send in logistical support, medical teams, crisis managers and aid for safe and dignified burials.

Thousands of women and men from within and outside the countries put their lives on the line to slow the advance of this disease.

Thanks to these partners – and too many others to name – we have come a long way in containing the outbreak.

The General Assembly took decisive action, endorsing the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response - UNMEER. I thank His Excellency Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly, for his continued leadership in keeping the membership seized with this issue.

As UNMEER prepares to close next month, the UN will maintain the dedicated high-level leadership under WHO together with the UN country teams, in its support to help the affected countries get to zero.
 
The strategy to end the outbreak is working – but the final stretch of the response remains particularly challenging.

Cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone have been reduced considerably. The response is being fine-tuned to focus on increasing engagement, awareness and contact tracing in the remaining affected communities.

New cases in Liberia show the need for continued vigilance given the regional risks. The Liberian Government’s proactive actions also underscore how the response strategy has effectively reinforced national capacities and knowledge to be activated for future outbreaks.

But the impacts of the Ebola crisis have been far-reaching and much work is needed to support the countries.

The outbreak has eroded progress on peace and development. It has disrupted health and social services.

Many major economic sectors have been affected: agriculture, mining, trade, tourism, transport, fisheries and livestock. The functioning of schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure has suffered.

All of these disruptions have had a negative impact on the economies of all three countries – which were, prior to the Ebola outbreak, on a positive growth trajectory.

This negative impact – on economies, livelihoods and more importantly lives – demands that the global community continues to prioritize recovery from Ebola even long after the crisis subsides. This will be essential to “stay at zero” in order to strengthen resilience to withstand future shocks.

Your continued generosity will help the affected countries carry out their plans for recovery over the next two years.

Our shared goal is to build back stronger, safer and more resilient capacities for prevention and response. That means access to health services everywhere – not just in capitals. It means health services equipped to not only respond to extraordinary outbreaks like Ebola, but to address malaria, cholera and other common ailments.

Investing in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia will yield global dividends in preventing local outbreaks from becoming national emergencies and regional pandemics.

That is why today is about more than speeches and pledges – it is a chance to forge a partnership for a better future – a future that is full of opportunity and free of Ebola.

Our task is also to learn from our shortcomings and translate the lessons learned from this crisis in building back better. To do anything less would compound the tragedy.

I particularly welcome WHO’s lessons learned process and its plans for reform. Just this week, WHO welcomed the report from the independent Ebola Interim Assessment Panel. WHO has indicated that it is already moving forward to implement a number of the Panel’s recommendations.

In addition, I have appointed a High-Level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises, headed by His Excellency President Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Panel is now working on the pressing question of how to strengthen national and international systems to prevent and manage future health crises. I look forward to its recommendations.

More broadly, we have to learn from the Ebola outbreak [that] responding to the crisis phase is not enough. With any outbreak, we have to do more than end the caseload. We must lay the foundation for true health security by going the extra distance – as we pledge today – to create strong health systems that can prevent any recurrence and withstand any future outbreak.

Presidents Condé, Koroma and Johnson Sirleaf have shown admirable statesmanship.

Thanks to your support, we can largely be proud of what we have achieved in responding to this unprecedented crisis.

Yet we cannot breathe a sigh of relief – instead, let us collectively take a deep breath and resolve to finish the job.

I call on you to be part of this historic push to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and support the leaders and people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in returning to a path of sustainable development.

Together, let us jumpstart a robust recovery [process] over the next two years, and usher in a better future for generations to come.

Thank you for your support and leadership. Thank you very much.