WMA Calls for Africa's Health Systems to be Strengthened to Combat Ebola

(22.09.2014) An urgent call for Africa's health care systems to be strengthened to combat the Ebola crisis and other fatal diseases has come from the World Medical Association.

In a statement in advance of its annual General Assembly in Durban, South Africa (Oct. 8-11), where an emergency debate will be held about the Ebola crisis, the WMA says the current disaster illustrated the failure of some of Africa's health systems and the urgent need for continuous investment.

While welcoming the current support being given by other countries to contain the Ebola outbreak, Dr. Margaret Mungherera, President of the WMA, said: ‘It is vital that governments in those countries being devastated by the virus work with their health professionals to identify what is needed. Their knowledge and experience on the ground is invaluable.

‘Aid is vital to support West African nations build and enhance local primary community-based services for combating all diseases,
including Ebola. Only in this way will they be able to tackle the explosion of non-communicable and infectious diseases that are
plaguing all communities and nations across the world. But it is very important that any additional funding must be accompanied by total transparency.

‘If there is one thing the Ebola crisis should tell us it is that many of the world's health services simply cannot cope with major
disease outbreaks. Health promotion and disease prevention are the cornerstone of wise investment and successful public health
interventions. And in the developing world context, these are enabled by recruiting, training, supporting and paying appropriately health care staff and by keeping them in post and physically safe.

‘We must have universal health care and systems that will help these countries retain their health professionals and we need to act now'.

Dr. Mungherera said the WMA General Assembly would debate what further action was needed to cope with the Ebola crisis.