One year ago, on March 23, 2014, an epidemic of Ebola virus disease (EVD) was declared in West Africa. Beginning in Guinea, EVD quickly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, taking the lives of over 10,000 people.
Through a US $7.7-million grant provided by the African Development Bank, 115 foreign medical teams (FMTs) composed of doctors, nurses, and laboratory technicians from Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal were deployed to the three affected countries to fight the disease.
The AfDB grant was used to provide technical assistance to the Governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia (US $2.11 million each), Economic Community of West African States (US $282,000) and (Mano River Union (US $422,000). Part of the grant was used to finance FMTs through ECOWAS as well as deliver training and incentivize local health workers.
On March 20, 2015, the AfDB joined ECOWAS, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and development partners to celebrate the return of the doctors and health workers.
The ceremony was attended by the Ivorian Minister of Health, Raymonde Goudou Coffie; Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, Chair of the Steering Committee on Ebola in Côte d’Ivoire; Dr. Laurent Assogba, Deputy Director General of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO/ECOWAS); and Ginette Nzau-Muteta, Manager for Health at the African Development Bank.
“Our partnership with WAHO has been extremely successful and has provided tangible results on the ground. We are now exploring other joint programs, such as the West African Regional Center for Disease Control – to continue the fight against Ebola”, said AfDB’s Nzau-Muteta.
“You are soldiers of solidarity. You have the gratitude of your country for your courage, willpower and ambition to save your fellow brothers and sisters. Africa admires you. Côte d’Ivoire salutes you,” said Spiteri, of behalf of the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, Daniel Kablan Duncan.
Health workers were deployed in November and December 2014. They received two weeks’ training in Ghana prior to their deployment, followed by 1-3 days’ training in the country before returning to Côte d’Ivoire for a quarantine period of 21 days. Three months later, they are all home safe.
“We are proud to announce that there have been no cases of Ebola suspected among our volunteer doctors when they returned home,” said Assogba of the West African Health Organization.
The African Development Bank was the first development partner to give a grant of $3 million in April 2014 to support regional Ebola response efforts. To date the Bank’s total support package is worth some $223 million.