The Department of Social Affairs held a joint high-level roundtable to discuss governance issues in the multi-stakeholder responses to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa in partnership with the Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University; the African Peace Building Network Program of the Social Science Research Council; the Oxfam International Liaison Office with the AU; and the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa. The meeting, held at the African Union Commission (AUC) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, brought together key stakeholders at the highest national, regional and continental levels to share best practices, and reflect on the lessons learnt, in order to prescribe appropriate government structures and systems required to establish sustainable and resilient health systems.
The Commissioner of Social Affairs, H.E Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko in his opening remarks highlighted the extraordinary efforts of member states and the African private sector in their support to the African Union's efforts toward fighting Ebola. "The continental response to the Ebola epidemic included high-level advocacy, mobilization of financial resources and the deployment of health workers and other personnel to the affected countries by member states and the private sector. The ASEOWA mission deployed 855 volunteers between September 2014 and February 2015", he said.
The Commissioner further acknowledged the significant impact governance issues had had on the response to the fight against Ebola and hoped that this platform would prescribe appropriate government structures and systems required to establish sustainable and resilient health systems.
"There is no doubt that governance issues had a significant impact on the fight against EVD. For example, why did the health workers in the affected countries initially have difficulties in mobilizing an immediate and adequate response to the EVD?"
Furthermore, he added, governance-related issues were observed during the epidemic. These include in some instances: accountability of the state, effective consultation, erosion of trust and social contract between state and society; participation and engagement of citizens in state public affairs; access to and effective delivery of public services, amongst other challenges.
The roundtable engaged in frank exchanges on the lessons learned; what accounted for the varied responses to Ebola by various stakeholders; the remedial or containment measures that should be in place as well as their availability; and what lessons can be learnt from the Ebola response about existing early warning systems, early actions and practices.
The meeting discussed the appropriate government structure and systems required to establish sustainable and resilient health systems to shocks, and that would ensure that the system in place does not collapse in times of national emergencies