maandag 1 september 2014

Liberiaanse actie- en belangengroepen adviseren en bekritiseren het regeringsbeleid inzake de Ebola-crisis

Bij wijze van uitzondering plaats ik een persbericht op mijn blog. Het is van de Çivil Society Organisations Ebola Response Task Force. Deze coalitie van belangen- en actiegroepen, waartoe ook de groepen behoren waarmee NDI nauw samenwerkt, heeft een aantal initiatieven genomen om de verspreiding van het Embola-virus te beteugelen, zoals hieronder staat beschreven. Maar de coalitie neemt ook stelling in het persbericht tegen de wijze waarop de regering opereert, wil een demilitarisering van de aanpak en vraagt de regering het management van de bestrijding van het virus over te laten aan ervaren, internationale hulporganisaties.
Civil Society Organizations Ebola Response Task Force
In response to the government's call for a collective and concerted approach to the EBOLA crisis, civil society organizations have grouped themselves into a coalition to form a common front in their engagement with the EBOLA response process. As part of its support, CSOs have been engaged in the following activities:
§  Community outreach in eight counties (Montserrado, Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Bomi and Gbarpolu) to create awareness on the mode of transmission of the virus and methods of prevention; accompanied by the distribution of posters containing awareness messages;
§  Production of spot messages on the prevention of the virus that are being aired on 44 community based radio stations and 5 stations in Monrovia;
§  Production of preventive spot messages in the local languages mainstreaming the voices of local, traditional and religious leaders;
§  Provision of food and hygienic materials to the quarantined community in Dolo's Town, West Point and Tubmanburg

In the coming weeks, the CSOs’ Taskforce will undertake the following interventions:
§  The production and screening of an audio-visual documentary in target counties to create awareness on the virus;
§  The establishment of a "Situation Room" that will monitor the Government's response to the EBOLA crisis, assess citizens' access to reopened health facilities as announced by the government, ensure the level of accountability in the use of resources by the National Taskforce and analyze the trend of the EBOLA pandemic and its social, economic and development implications on the country.  

CSOs recognize the efforts by the Government and its international and national partners in containing the spread. In spite of the efforts to contain the epidemic and having engaged the process since the President declared an emergency health situation and a state of emergency, CSOs strongly proposes the following critical issues to be considered by the government: 
Re-direct the National EBOLA response strategy: 
CSOs support the calls by some members of the National Legislature, the Liberian National Red Cross and other opinion leaders that the management of the EBOLA response is turned over to experienced international humanitarian organizations, while the role of the government should be to monitor and support the process.   
State of Emergency:
During this time of a state of emergency, the government needs to say what types of citizens' rights are being restrained. It is also important that the government demilitarize the EBOLA response and ensures accountability of the actions of security personnel.

In pursuit of accountability and in keeping with its legal mandate (Article III, Section 1), the Independent National Commission HR should urgently conduct an investigation from a human rights perspective of the West Point shooting on August 18 that led to the death of one person and come up with an independent report and recommend prosecution and compensation for the victims if a violation occurred in keeping with the June 25, 2009 amended portion of Article VIII of its Act.

Increase political commitment: 
The government must demonstrate the political will to commit more state resources and allocations must be prioritized in favor of health and social responses rather than towards security;
The CSO group noted that the government's recent disbursement statistics of US$5 million made available to the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease leaves a lot to be desired and it speaks to the government's priorities.
 Civil society noted that it would be best for the government, going forward, to realign its own funds to reflect a higher degree of priority for the health and prevention components of the war on Ebola by ensuring that no less than 80% of such funds go to this component of the anti-Ebola fight.

Decentralization of response: 
While it is true that containing the spread of the virus in Monrovia is more difficult due to population and movement of citizens, it is equally important that logistics, drugs, PPE materials and financial resources are decentralized to the County Health Team so that the government's response can be felt in other counties;
Establish additional treatment centers: 
With the scale at which the virus has spread, it is imperative that additional treatment centers are established to respond to calls from families and community members.
Beef-up Response: 
While it is true that the government's response is getting better coordinated, it is important that the time for the government's response be beefed up so that citizens' trust in the government's capacity to respond can be increased. 
Contact Tracing: 
Contact tracing plays an essential role in the fight against the spread of the virus as such it must be given equal attention by the National Taskforce. A strategy needs to be urgently developed involving diverse actors from different professional backgrounds to buttress other responses. 
Increase community participation: 
The experience of CSOs from the field reveals that local authorities don't have a plan to respond to the rapid transmission of the virus. Hospital facilities are already overwhelmed with new cases and are incapacitated to respond adequately to cases reported from local communities across Liberia. It is therefore important that community participation and mobilization forms an integral part of the overall response strategy in terms of decisions to establish additional treatment centers since community members are likely to be receptive to measures they participate in thereby supporting the government in its response plan.
Support from international community needs scaling up: 
The level of financial, human and technical support from the international community is commendable. At the same time, this assistance needs to be scaled-up and sustained over the period of six months given the rate at which the virus has spread. Capacity building for national institutions and actors should also be factored in the support so that other future emergency situations of this nature can be handled more effectively from the onset. 

Finally, in loving memory of all healthcare workers who died and families who lost their loved ones in the fight against the Ebola, we pledge our commitment to work in partnership with government and its international partners. 

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