Monrovia – With Liberia making significant strides to defeat Ebola, all attention is now shifting towards the recovery process of the country and the government is appealing for international support in the process. Individual Liberians are also making frantic efforts to secure donors support for the country. Atty. Samuel K. Woods, former Public Works Minister who during the outbreak negotiated for the shipment of medical supplies and other materials to the country to help fight the deadly virus is also heading the appeal for recovery support to Liberia.
Woods, who is in The Netherlands to engage the Dutch parliament and other donor organizations wrote in an Op-Ed published in a number of Dutch dailies Thursday, says he will push for the Government of Netherlands to do more than just providing emergency aid to Liberia.
“The Netherlands has to do more than just provide emergency aid in order to put an end to the Ebola crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The Dutch government will also have to contribute to the health care systems and economic development of these three countries,” said Woods. Atty. Woods says he will speak on several issues, including the Dutch response to the Ebola crisis.
Ebola not yet over
According to Atty. Woods, although the international support to the region is meant to deal with the virus but said the virus is still active. “The Ebola outbreak in West-Africa is the biggest and long-lasting in history. Up to now the virus has infected over 24 000 and killed over 10 000 people. Regrettably, this number is still rising. The numbers are particularly alarming in Guinea. Therefore, we can conclude that the Ebola crisis is certainly not over”, he further said.
He said the challenge is to halt the virus completely and get to zero; something he has disclosed will be high on his speech to the Dutch parliament. “My first request to the Members of Parliament and to the Dutch government is to continue the efforts on the Ebola crisis. Awareness, prevention and treatment capacity must be maintained”, said Woods. He also vowed to request the Dutch government and the Members of Parliament to support reconstruction programs describing education as a crucial matter.
Liberians future at stake
The human rights lawyer said the future of Liberians is at stake, as they are exposed to child labor and child marriage. He added “The future of thousands of children is at stake, according to research by Plan International. Children in West-Africa are more and more at risk of child labor and child marriage due to the economic decline. One of the priorities should be to implement hygiene protocols in the schools that have been recently reopened”
In a further appeal, Atty. Woods said he will be pushing for the Dutch support to go out to initiatives that are aimed at improving food security and income generating activities including savings and credit groups, agricultural organizations and village committees. The Netherlands, he noted can contribute to the improvement of seeds, fertilizers and farming tools.
Continued Woods “The Netherlands is also ideally suited to aid in the improvement of agricultural education, building agricultural credits and re-developing agricultural markets”. Woods has stated he will be making a case for investment in stronger health care systems in order to prevent the rapid spread of viruses such as Ebola or measles.
The lawyer added “Prevention of such epidemics is much more cost-effective than curing it. The current Ebola response has cost $4.3 billion, while investing in stronger health care systems would have cost $1.58 billion according to a Save the Children report. In other words: prevention is three times cheaper than treatment. Not to mention the thousands of lives that could have been saved”.
He concluded “Therefore, I call on international donors to scale up spending on healthcare systems. These countries should meet the minimal – and internationally agreed upon – standards for public spending on health care. This international norm is currently set at $86. For comparison: this number is $9 in Guinea, $16 in Sierra Leone, and $6100 in the Netherlands. The Netherlands could help these countries to meet these public spending goals by raising their tax incomes and tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance”. Source FPA