EBOLA Be­lieve it or not, the good news

CityPress - - Voices -

Yes, there is good news on Ebola. Nige­ria and Sene­gal have been de­clared Ebola-free. This is a re­flec­tion of good gov­er­nance. Nige­ria learnt from a pre­vi­ous po­lio out­break to lock down a break­out to pre­vent a pan­demic. It did so by is­su­ing a pres­i­den­tial de­cree that al­lowed the coun­try’s of­fi­cials to track and hos­pi­talise the peo­ple who were in­fected.

This is a great ex­am­ple of quick think­ing and dis­plays good po­lit­i­cal will. Nige­ria has a very good sys­tem of con­tact trac­ing – it is able to quickly pin­point any­one who has been ex­posed to Ebola, and to test and iso­late them.

In Sene­gal, Ebola was beaten by good con­tact-find­ing sys­tems, the co­or­di­na­tion be­tween gov­ern­ment and in­ter­na­tional agen­cies, and non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

What does this teach us? Good gov­er­nance and good gov­ern­ing sys­tems are vi­tal if in­fec­tious dis­eases have to be beaten.

In the epi­cen­tre of the Ebola storm – in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – high growth rates mask un­der­de­vel­op­ment in th­ese na­tions.

None of the three has health sys­tems that can with­stand the deadly im­pact of the most dan­ger­ous Ebola out­break. But there was good news from the Liberian cap­i­tal of Mon­rovia. The rate of in­fec­tions ap­pears to be abat­ing as the sounds of am­bu­lance sirens grow scarcer. We can only pray.

What lessons can be learnt from the out­break? The African Union (AU) is sup­posed to be quick and nim­ble – the an­tithe­sis of its pre­de­ces­sor, the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of African Unity. It failed on Ebola.

The AU got into gear for the first time this week when its chair­per­son, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, vis­ited the af­fected na­tions. For many, it was too lit­tle too late and the AU now has to work out ways to bet­ter man­age th­ese pan­demics.

And there will be more work to do to en­sure that the Ebola out­break does not re­sult in a new wave of stigma and prej­u­dice that Africans around the globe will have to face.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.