In spite of encouraging results, the Ebola epidemic is not over: we must remain mobilized - 13 August 2015 [fr]
Peace and security in Africa - Ebola - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Representative of France to the United Nations, Chargé d’affaires a.i. - Security Council - 13 August 2015
I too would like to thank you, Madam President, for having organized this Security Council debate almost a year after the first meeting of the Council (see S/PV.7268) devoted to the Ebola epidemic, held in September 2014. I would also like to thank all the speakers for their briefings.
At the outset, France would like once again to pay tribute to the victims and the local and international personnel who were intimately committed to the sick since the beginning of the epidemic. If the situation has clearly improved in the three countries most affected, it is the fruit of the work on the ground of a solid strategy, endowed by significant human and financial resources. In that regard, we commend the work of the United Nations, whose related teams played a key role at the strategic and operational levels. We equally commend the exemplary response of the African Union.
In spite of those encouraging results, the Ebola epidemic has not ended. The international community must remain mobilized to conquer the virus. It is essential to pursue our efforts in maintaining strengthened epidemiological surveillance and a response capacity beyond the zero-Ebola objective. The complete eradication of the virus in the three affected countries remains our priority.
Since the beginning of the Ebola crisis, France has been fully committed to the countries affected, notably in support of the efforts of the Guinean authorities. We have mobilized more than €220 million, including €160 million from contributions raised from the State budget. In Guinea, our support for the authorities includes in particular the training and protection of the actors involved in the crisis by setting up two training centres in France and in Guinea. Our support also includes medical leadership through the establishment of four Ebola training centres, a centre for treating nursing staff and the financing of four laboratories.
In addition to these efforts to overcome the epidemic, we have already focused our attention on the recovery of the countries involved. Just as it was at the forefront of the emergency response to the epidemic, France has actively participated in those recovery efforts by mobilizing more than €150 million in additional funding. Overall, France will have raised approximately €350 million in response to the epidemic and to help the affected countries in recovery.
The Ebola crisis has highlighted the fragility of the health-care systems of the affected countries. Recovery efforts should focus on strengthening those systems based on a regional approach. France is already implementing several projects with our African and international partners. We support the establishment in Guinea of regional alert-and-response teams to the epidemic. We are also establishing a network of public health institutes to monitor the risks of epidemics in West Africa. This project will be connected to a network of laboratories led by the Pasteur and Institut Mérieux Institutes, and will be supported by strengthening hospital hygiene at the regional level.
Not only does the epidemic not recognize borders, but it has affected all sectors of society of those countries — education, economies and political processes have been disrupted. French support for the most affected countries covers all those areas. We intend to strengthen our cooperation in the region with our local and international partners. We need to work together both to put an end to the epidemic and to ensure the resilience of health-care systems and their capacity to prevent similar health crises in the future and to support sustainable development in the region.
In conclusion, further consideration must be given to how to improve the response of the international system as a whole to health crises, both through multilateral forums and on the ground. The epidemic should be taken as an opportunity to build our capacities to cope with significant health challenges. The epidemic reminds us that we need to have robust early warning and response capacities, and in particular how badly we need the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization. France will organize on 29 October in Paris a high-level meeting on lessons learned by the many actors involved the response in West Africa.