“We must stay focused and sustain our efforts to stop Ebola as soon as possible” says IFRC Secretary General in Brussels

Publié: 12 décembre 2014

Brussels/Geneva, 12 December 2014 – Mr Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) visited Brussels to meet members of the European Commission and the 79-strong African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).


At a Senior Level meeting called by Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and European Union Ebola Coordinator, the Secretary General had the  opportunity to address participants from EU Member States, UN organisations, NGOs and countries helping to fight Ebola including the United States, China, Japan, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. “The operations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and partners are having a real impact on Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. But we should not be complacent,” he said. “We must stay focused and sustain our efforts to stop Ebola as soon as possible. Moreover, we must start now investing in better health systems that will have the strength and capacity to resist further shocks.” he added.


He also recognized the efforts of almost 11,000 Red Cross volunteers who have stepped up to help end the Ebola outbreak not just in the three main affected countries, but also in Senegal, Mali and Nigeria, and with education and prevention programmes in neighbouring countries. The goal is to support more than 39 million people. “Our volunteers are the backbone of the Red Cross Red Crescent. It is because of their community engagement and awareness raising through door-to-door visits that a real difference is being made.


Mr Sy also addressed the ACP Council of Ministers on West Africa’s struggle in fighting Ebola, which mirrors the challenges faced by its healthcare systems in reaching out to remote rural areas whilst ensuring disease surveillance within countries and across borders. “We did not need Ebola to know that health systems are weak. We can no longer afford to fail to train, motivate and retain health care workers to properly staff health systems. Government should not fail to allocate 15% of national budgets to health, as intended in the 2000 Abuja Declaration. We must deliver on our promises”.


Elhadj As Sy also called for an end to Ebola-related stigma and discrimination to create a more enabling environment for an effective response. He supported the African, Caribbean, Pacific – EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which passed a resolution in early December underlining the need "to isolate the disease without isolating the countries affected" and "to prevent the stigmatization of survivor patients”. 


He then called on African states to invest resources into what will ultimately end this outbreak: simultaneous education of communities, best possible treatment of people infected, and those who have come into contact, tracing and monitoring of those who have come into contact with an infected person, and the safe and dignified burials of deceased people.


At the same time, he urged international donors to fulfil their commitments to Ebola affected countries, recognizing that efforts should not be limited to fighting the disease, but also to creating the conditions for post-Ebola social and economic reconstruction. “Ebola has exposed other deficiencies. It is negatively impacting on economic growth, health and education systems and access to food. We must invest in communities for a better health and future”.


For more information on Red Cross Red Crescent Ebola response activities, visit www.ifrc.org/ebola-crisis.


For interviews, images or more information on the IFRC’s Ebola response, contact:

In Geneva: Benoit Carpentier, Team Leader, Public Communications, IFRC, Mobile : +41 79 213 24 13 E-mail : benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org

In Brussels : Virginie Louis, Senior Communication Officer, Red Cross EU Office, Virginie.louis@redcross.eu, Tel. +32 2 235 03 86 @RedCrossEU

In Ethiopia/Nairobi: Katherine Mueller, Communications Manager, IFRC Africa, Mobile: +251 930 03 3413 / +254 731 688 613 – E-mail : katherine.mueller@ifrc.org