African Union holds emergency meet on Ebola

The African Union (AU) executive council Monday began its emergency meeting on the Ebola virus outbreak in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa to consolidate collective continental efforts against the deadly disease.

Addis Ababa: The African Union (AU) executive council Monday began its emergency meeting on the Ebola virus outbreak in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa to consolidate collective continental efforts against the deadly disease.

The meeting being held in AU headquarters is expected to adopt a common position and define appropriate strategies to enable Africa to effectively combat the Ebola epidemic, Xinhua reported.

The meeting has been necessitated by the need to have a common understanding of the Ebola disease, current status of the response and to come up with a collective continental approach, said AU ahead of the meeting.

The meeting is also expected to deliberate on the suspension of flights, and maritime and border closures, as well as stigmatisation of the affected countries and their nationals, AU said.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the AU Commission, underlined the need to act together to assist those most affected by the epidemic.

Dlamini-Zuma also dwelt upon the strengthening of the weak and under-resourced African health systems.

She emphasised on the need to operationalise the African centre for disease control so that Africans can share information, track the development of the disease and implement effective and coordinated responses.

"We should ensure that Ebola does not spread to other countries by implementing effective procedures to detect, isolate and treat those who may be infected and protect the rest of the population from infections. At the same time, we must be careful not to introduce measures that place more averse social and economic impacts than the disease itself," noted the chairperson.

Ebola has largely affected countries in West Africa and there are concerns not only over the fatality rate, but also on the consequences of the disease on the affected countries.

In his opening remarks, Carlos Lopes, UN under secretary-general and executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, noted that the economic impact of the epidemic would be significant.

"The economic impact of Ebola outbreak will be significant. Estimates by Economic Commission for Africa confirm that several points GDP reduction are to be expected in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, due to a combination of factors," said the official.

The current Ebola outbreak has claimed over 2,000 lives this year.

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