Health, fitness and Food

Africans in Diaspora Mobilise Resources for Ebola

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Nduka Nwosu in New York

A United States-based non-governmental organisation, Global Africa Response, comprising over 12 groups, African communities, religious bodies has launched a strong campaign preparatory for future occurrences of Ebola virus as the United Nations warns that the number of the infected will double to over 20,000 in the weeks ahead.

A joint statement signed by Evelyn Joe of the African Union Diaspora Organisation and Mouna Garga representing the Tunisian Maghreb Diaspora Region, continental Africa Diaspora Information on Ebola Crisis, indicated that it is mobilising resources, men and materials to address the health epidemic by engaging organisations, individuals and other partners to combat the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

A New Jersey-based Nigeria Diaspora publisher heading one of the NGOs, Celebrate Africa Foundation, Dr Chika Onyeani, told THISDAY: “When the Ebola disease began in December 2013, Africa Diaspora was quiet.  When 1,000 Africans in West Africa died  from the EVD, there was no concerted effort.  Now it has killed over 4,200 Africans with infections reaching almost 10,000. The Ebola disease is having devastating effects on the economic life and destroying the social fabric of the African region.

“The Global African Diaspora community needs to mobilise to contribute financially and product-wise, including N100 and P95 respirators, medical facemasks, disposable gloves, surface wipes and disinfectants, protective clothing, respirator fit test kits, N95 respirators, hand wipes and sanitizers, goggles and safety glasses, thermometers.”

The time for rhetoric was yesterday, said the statement, “the time for action is now.  We must not allow the Africa’s detractors to mischaracterise and politicise the plight, and stigmatise our continent again.”

“According to the UN latest report issued last Friday, the number of Ebola cases is probably doubling every three-to-four weeks and without a mass global mobilisation “the world will have to live with the Ebola virus forever,”
UN special envoy on the disease, David Nabarro, told the UN General Assembly that the response needs to be 20 times greater.

According to Global Africa Diaspora Response, it is bringing together existing networks and engaging new efforts to facilitate solutions.

“The Africa Diaspora Response, therefore, will not duplicate or replace existing efforts, but will play a complementary role by convening stakeholders and creating resources, and supporting their efforts, and sharing information,” the statement added, insisting that the Africa Diaspora community “can no longer continue to be uninvolved as if nothing is happening in our continent and to our infected and affected brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children in Africa.

“Neither can we rationalise that the catastrophic virus is the concern of only the affected and isolated countries.

The Global African Diaspora has the moral obligation to act. In solidarity with the affected countries and constituents, we are responding to the Ebola virus  crisis in a compelling, integrated and coordinated manner, included a clearinghouse on information, programmes, events, activities by various constituencies.”

This is an unprecedented initiative with Diaspora Africans and institutions from all the five Regions in Africa and the Global Diaspora, the statement added, “mobilising  constituent organisations at all levels, including African artists, faith groups, health care professionals, student clubs, and social media to come together and also collaborate with the African Diplomatic Corp in order to effectively and efficiently redress the  Ebola virus crisis.”

In the process, it said: “We aim to develop a model of capacity building by identifying available professional skills to address health crisis in Africa as opposed to episodic responses.

“This initiative focuses on advancing informed public education, advocacy, capacity building and mobilisation, resource-raising, expediting delivery of supplies, and complementing the ground efforts of African countries.

“Mobilisation means getting every African Diaspora involved, it means convincing your family, your friends, your organisations, your religious institutions to be a part of this unfortunate but major necessary action. While the effort is the leadership responsibility of Africa Diaspora, partnerships with the international community are welcomed.

Also, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, corroborating Nabarro’s statement, added that  catching up with what he called “the menacing exponential curve of the virus,” demands a massive scale-up of financial resources, medical staff and equipment, lamenting that only one-quarter of the $1 billion that U.N. agencies have appealed for to tackle Ebola has been funded.

“I now appeal to all member states to act generously and swiftly,” Eliasson said while addressing diplomats from some of the 193 UN member states. He continued: “Speed is of the essence. A contribution within days is more important than a larger contribution within weeks.”

Nabarro noted that without the mass mobilisation of nations, donor organisations and non-governmental groups to support the affected countries in West Africa, “it will be impossible to get this disease quickly under control, and the world will have to live with the Ebola virus forever.”

Eliasson said in his 35 years as a public health doctor dealing with disease outbreaks and pandemics, he has never encountered a challenge like Ebola because the outbreak has moved from rural areas into towns and cities and is now “affecting a whole region and … impacting on the whole world.”

He said the UN, which is coordinating the global response, knows what needs to be done to catch up to and overtake Ebola’s rapid advance, “and together we’re going to do it.”

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