African Union congratulates Liberia for its victory over Ebola

Addis Ababa, May 11 (IANS) The African Union (AU) on Monday congratulated Liberia on its victory over Ebola.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the AU Commission, congratulated Liberia on being certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) this week as Ebola-free, Xinhua news agency cited a statement from AU as saying.

Dlamini-Zuma has congratulated Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the government and the people of Liberia for overcoming the Ebola epidemic in their country.

This is a victory for the people and government of Liberia, and a victory of all Africans and the international community, who rallied in solidarity to support them in this fight, said the chairperson.

"Although we may see a great improvement in combating the pandemic, the global community, however, must understand that the fight against Ebola is not yet over. As such, strengthening healthcare systems and surveillance systems should continuously remain at the core of responding to the disease until the African continent is free of Ebola," said Dlamini-Zuma.

"It gives us, as Africans, great pleasure to see Liberia Ebola-free. This is testament to the notion that if we stand together as a continent, we can achieve great things for Africa and in this case, defeating the Ebola virus in one of the most affected countries in West Africa," she said.

"Today is a particularly significant day for AU, which through its AU Mission to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) sent 300 qualified African health workers to treat and care for Ebola victims in Liberia alone," she added.

In total, ASEOWA has contributed over 800 health workers to the three most affected countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"ASEOWA also played a big part in rebuilding the health systems of the affected countries. As a sign of the improvements on the ground, we have now started drawing down our healthworkers," noted Dlamini-Zuma.

She also expressed her gratitude to African leaders who rallied to the call made by the AU Commission for health workers.

The chairperson thanked partners from all parts of the world who have been and continue to be instrumental in helping the affected countries get to zero.

She highlighted the role played by the African private sector which showed its solidarity with the affected countries by donating funds and embarking on other fund-raising projects for the ASEOWA mission.

"The African Union will remain seized with the eradication of Ebola and all other contagious diseases, and in this respect, we are looking at establishing the African centre for disease control. While Liberia's victory indicates that West Africa is near defeating the deadly disease, we must not cease to see the complete eradication through. It is now up to all of us as Africans, with the enduring support of our friends from international communities, to collectively fight aggressively to curb the spread of Ebola and restore the dignity of those affected," said Dlamini-Zuma.

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