Ebola response must include socio-economic recovery, says UNDP

The Ebola virus disease that has caused a medical emergency in the three-most affected countries in West Africa is also affecting the means of making a living of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, risking development gains made over the past decades. “We have to understand that the socio-economic impact of the disease will continue long after Ebola,” said Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, Deputy Director in the Regional Bureau for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She added that the outbreak is strongly impacting the poor, especially women, who make up a disproportionate share of health workers and caregivers, and farmers and traders as cross-border trade has ground to a halt. Sandhu-Rojon was speaking at the UNDP-hosted session, “Responding to Ebola as a Development Crisis” at the Global South-South Development Expo 2014 in Washington DC. During the session, government representatives and development partners including intergovernmental agencies, think tanks and the private sector shared experiences, and analyzed challenges and opportunities in providing an integrated response to the Ebola crisis, focused on the linkages between poverty and health epidemics. Government representatives from China, Cuba, the Gambia, Nigeria, the Russian Federation, South Africa and Uganda advocated for a response that focuses on long-term solutions to reduce vulnerability to these kinds of crises. Participants highlighted the contributions of countries in the global South to the Ebola response under the umbrella of South-South cooperation. For instance, Uganda which has been impacted by the Ebola virus five times since 2000, is providing support to affected countries by sending medical personnel to Liberia, while Russia and Cuba expressed their commitment to mobilize both capital and human resources to fight the disease. Nigeria referenced financial resources provided to each affected country and the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common Fund, while China expressed its aim to train 10,000 medical staff to deal with the outbreak and is providing assistance to non-Ebola affected countries as a prevention measure. The participants attending the forum analyzed different mechanisms for scaling-up of such solutions, creating space for future partnerships between solution seekers and providers.