David Miliband: The most valuable resource to fight Ebola is local staff and leaders

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The Ebola epidemic has been beaten back by local community education, mobilization and organization led by trusted figures in the diverse communities in West Africa, David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said in a speech on Wednesday (3 March).

On March 3 2015, the European Union hosted a high-level conference on the Ebola epidemic.

The event was co-chaired by Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as Togo, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the African Union. The Presidents of the affected countries were present. The EU was represented by its foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, its Ebola coordinator Christos Stylianides and the Commissioners for Development and Health.

More than 80 delegations have been invited, including Ministers from all West African countries and EU Member States, other countries that are contributing to the fight against Ebola, and relevant partners, such as UN agencies, the IMF, the World Bank, NGOs, the private sector and research institutes.

David Miliband, the former Labour foreign secretary from 2007 to 2010, took the floor in his current capacity of President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

IRC is a global humanitarian and development NGO, founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein. It is currently working in over 40 countries.

In his speech, Miliband paid tribute to doctors and nurses, tragically killed in large numbers by the disease, but also to local staff and local leaders, who “turned the tide of the disease”.

Among the examples are community workers who supported by the IRC led identification, isolation and safe burial brought the disease under control.  In Liberia’s capital Monrovia when angry residents looted an Ebola holding center, the epidemic came under control not because of foreign or military intervention, but thanks to a locally-led network of community workers and in Kenema Province in Sierra Leone IRC has had the same experience.

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