African Union’s efforts to contain the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa has been boosted with Dangote Foundation pledging the sum of $3 million to a fund established by African business leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This is in addition to the previous interventions in Nigeria where the foundation, owned by business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, had spent about $5 million to evolve a two-pronged strategy that directly support the Nigerian Government’s Ebola containment efforts through investments that strengthen Nigeria’s health system in a manner that will endure beyond the current Ebola crisis.
The AU fund had been set up in response to the AU Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s call for $30 million from Africa’s private sector to support the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
This initiative is poised to send 1,000 African health workers including doctors, epidemiologists, nurses and lab technologists to join ongoing efforts to stop the devastating EVD outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The shortage of professional and trained health workers on ground is widely acknowledged to be one of the key factors limiting Ebola containment efforts in the three countries.
Dangote commended fellow business leaders for their speedy response to the AU’s call.
He encouraged more business leaders and the public to contribute, saying: “Ebola continues to devastate and take away lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There must be no let-up in urgently matching solidarity and moral support with faster and more strategic actions. None of us can sleep easy until Ebola Virus contained.”
He closed his statement by applauding all those working on the frontlines to contain Ebola - the health care workers, those tracking and tracing contacts, those ensuring that Ebola victims receive dignified burials, among others.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank each and every one of you around the world for playing heroic roles. I commiserate with the families of your colleagues who have made the supreme sacrifice while fighting Ebola. I thank and applaud all the African volunteers who will be part of the AU initiative,’’ he said.
The fund established by the business leaders will be hosted and administered by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The President of AfDB, Dr. Donald Kaberuka and Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Carlos Lopes, joined the AU and the business leaders to establish the fund.
The fund would enable immediate deployment of medical personnel to the three affected countries. The business leaders present at the meeting agreed to encourage their colleagues to contribute to the fund and also lend in-kind support to the pan-African initiative.
As at November 7, some 13,241 people had contracted Ebola and 4,950 had lost their lives to the disease worldwide.
Dangote Foundation has spent almost $5 million in support of efforts to contain what is now recognised as the worst Ebola virus outbreak ever.
In Nigeria, it supported the establishment of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Centre in Lagos and ordered 12 temperature scanning systems on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health for screening of travellers transiting through international airports in Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu. The scanning systems are scheduled to be deployed this month.
Dangote Foundation has also donated 3,800 pieces of protective clothing for use by health workers across Nigeria. Dangote Foundation is also in the final stages of elaborating a partnership with the Wellcome Trust.
By Crusoe Osagie for ThisDay