Episodes of "Africa in Focus"
Sunday, August 17, 2014
FEATURE: ECOWAS Finally sets up Ebola Awareness Page
Barely a month after ECOWAS recorded its first fatality at the ECOWAS Lagos Office to Ebola, the regional institution has finally established a website to help respond to staff concerns about the Ebola virus. Dubbed "ECOWAS Health Awareness", the site is in the three official languages of ECOWAS--English; French; and Portuguese--and uses a combination of cartoons and simple language to explain all one needs to know about Ebola.
Under the "All you need to know" tab, there are sections on recognising the virus; preventing it; transmission; and treatment.
On clicking the FAQ tab, one is directed to pertinent questions on Ebola for "ECOWAS"; the "WHO" and the "UN". There is regrettably no information under the UN section, but there are a detailled list of questions under the "ECOWAS" and "WHO" tabs.
Perhaps the most useful part of the site is the "Updates" tab, which is populated by some statistics of deaths recorded since 27 July up to 8 August, 2014. Although the French and Portuguese site have little information, the English site seems to be more up-to-date.
This website comes at a time when many ECOWAS Community citizens have been left wondering what the regional response to the crisis is. Reports that the AU and WHO are actively collaborating to help countries affected by Ebola have left many sceptical as to whether there is actually any ECOWAS Ebola Fund as trumpeted by ECOWAS at the 45th Ordinary Session that was held here in Accra in July.
The West African Health Organisation(WAHO), the regional counterpart to the World Health Organisation, has been found wanting in its response to the crisis. It is only a small news digest about an upcoming emergency meeting in Accra on 28 August that offers some assurance.
According to the WAHO website, the "Extraordinary Meeting of the Assembly of Health Ministers will be devoted to reviewing Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the region". The meeting will seek to provide "an update on the implementation of recommendations from the last WHO-sponsored Accra Meeting and the Summit convened by the Heads of State of the Mano River Union."
More than 1,000 people lost their lives to the deadly virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria in recent months.
Access the ECOWAS Ebola Awareness site here: http://www.awareness.ecowas.int/