13 January 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States delivered by Mr. Antonio Parenti, Head of the Economic, Trade and Development Section, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 70th UNGA – Briefing of the General Assembly: Progress of Ebola outbreak response and the read towards recovery
Mr President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Let me start by congratulating the Governments of Guinea and Sierra Leone for reaching zero cases in the fight against the Ebola virus disease and express my sincere hope that very soon Liberia will also be back to zero cases.
However, we are not yet at the “resilient zero” stage and we all need to remain vigilant. We are seeing that the Ebola virus can re-emerge in human hosts and that the risk of re-infection still remains. Therefore, continued attention needs to be paid to the “Ebola survivors” and to their care and surveillance, as well as their protection from stigmatisation.
At the same time, we also need to work together for the recovery of the affected countries. We should ensure a comprehensive approach to this phase with the objective of addressing wider social, economic and political consequences. Support is not only needed to strengthen health systems and to ensure universal access to them, but also to help support wider basic services, particularly education, and economic stability.
One important element is to build stronger and more resilient health systems – not just in the Ebola affected countries but all across the world. The International Health Regulations are the cornerstone of global health security and their implementation and review have to be a continuous process as part of a long term approach. We need to work together to improve the functioning and universal access to health systems and we therefore urge all Member States to accelerate the comprehensive implementation of the International Health Regulations, in the short term, and to enhance a longer-term commitment.
Let me also reiterate the importance of learning the lessons from this epidemic and how we can all be better prepared for the future. The EU has carried out its own evaluation exercise, and is participating in the global assessments, such as the High-Level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises. We are also engaging in the ongoing World Health Organization reform to make it fit for purpose in case of future health emergencies.
Before concluding, let me underline that the EU and its Member States remain committed to support the affected countries as they rebuild both their health systems and their economies. In order to do so, we have pledged over 2 Billion Euros to response and recovery; and we stay engaged in helping developing countries to fulfil their domestic and International Health Response commitments.
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