by Justice Lee Adoboe
ACCRA, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Just over a month after their first meeting on the Ebola outbreak, health ministers from member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are set to meet here Thursday to tackle the deadly disease that has claimed more than 1,400 lives since February.
The extra-ordinary meeting will be preceded by a two-day meeting of health experts on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a release from the Ministry of Health of Ghana.
It will be held under the aegis of the Chairman of ECOWAS, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, and aims to beef up implementation of strategies to contain the Ebola Virus disease in the sub-region.
Expected outcomes of the meeting include update on Ebola outbreak in the ECOWAS sub-region; review of the implementation of recommendations from the various meetings held on the epidemic; and difficulties encountered at each level of the control of epidemic.
It is also expected that the appropriate strategies and resources needed to curb the epidemic will be identified.
The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) started in Guinea last February. Close to 1,500 people have so far died in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria in what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the deadliest outbreak in the history of the disease.
"This is a threat to regional and global public health safety as well as the economic and social security of the affected countries and therefore considered as one of the most frightening ever experienced since the outbreak of the disease more that forty years ago," the release stated.
Early July, an emergency ministerial meeting was convened in Accra on the issue that resulted in a communique with recommendations addressed to each stakeholder.
The Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS also met here and approved recommendations proposed by the Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO) regarding actions to be taken to deal with the epidemic situation.
They recommended the need to support implementation of synchronized cross-border interventions, provide financial support to the four affected countries to strengthen preventive and control measures, urging active surveillance of cases and management of cases in specialized environments.
They also called for multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration, and the need to beef up material and logistic capacities and social mobilization, among other measures.
Although progress has been made in the implementation of actions to prevent and contain the scourge, many challenges remain to curb the spread and containment of the epidemic, added the release.
The Accra meeting is therefore expected to find solutions to the implementation challenges in the sub-region's response to the EVD outbreak.