Africa Union’s efforts at containing the dreaded Ebola virus in West Africa has been boosted with the Dangote Foundation pledging a sum of $3 million to a fund established by African business leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This is in addition to previous interventions in Nigeria where the Foundation owned by the business mogul, Aliko Dangote, had spent about $5 million to evolve a two pronged strategy that directly support the Nigerian government’s Ebola containment efforts, through investments that strengthen Nigeria’s health system in a manner that will endure beyond the current Ebola crisis.
The AU fund has been set up in response to the African Union Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s call for $30 million from Africa’s private sector to support its Ebola Outbreak in West Africa initiative. This initiative is poised to send 1,000 African health workers including doctors, epidemiologists, nurses, and lab technologists to join ongoing efforts to stop the devastating Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The shortage of professional and trained health workers on-the ground is widely acknowledged to be one of the key factors limiting Ebola containment efforts in the three countries.
Aliko Dangote commended fellow business leaders for their speedy response to the African Union’s call. He encouraged more business leaders and the general public to contribute saying “Ebola continues to devastate and take away lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There must be no let-up in urgently matching solidarity and moral support with faster and more strategic actions. None of us can sleep easy until Ebola is contained.”
He closed his statement by applauding all those working on the frontlines to contain Ebola – the health care workers, those tracking and tracing contacts, those ensuring that Ebola victims receive dignified burials, and others.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank each and every one of you around the world for playing heroic roles. I commiserate with the families of your colleagues who have made the supreme sacrifice while fighting Ebola. I thank and applaud all the African volunteers who will be part of the AU initiative.’’ The fund established by the business leaders will be hosted and administered by the African Development Bank (ADB). The President of ADB, Dr. Donald Kaberuka and Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Carlos Lopes, joined the AU and the business leaders to establish the fund.
The fund will enable immediate deployment of medical personnel to the three affected countries. The business leaders present at the meeting agreed to encourage their colleagues to contribute to the fund and also lend in-kind support to the pan-African initiative. As at Friday November 7, 2014, some 13,241 people had contracted Ebola and 4,950 had lost their lives to the disease worldwide.
Dangote Foundation has spent almost $5 million in support of efforts to contain what is now recognized as the worst Ebola outbreak ever. In Nigeria, it supported the establishment of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Lagos and ordered 12 temperature
scanning systems on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health for screening of travelers transiting through international airports in Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu.
The scanning systems are scheduled to be deployed this month. Dangote Foundation has also donated 3,800 pieces of protective clothing for use by health workers across Nigeria. Dangote Foundation is also in the final stages of elaborating a partnership with the Wellcome Trust.