Special Ministerial meeting on Ebola virus in West Africa opens in Accra

Accra, 2 July, 2014 – Liberia’s Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Bernice T. Dahn has said that addressing the Ebola virus disease from a cultural perspective can go a long way in curbing the spread of the disease.  “In many cases family members of people affected with the disease do not seek medical care.  Instead, they restrain the patients in their homes or they seek non-medical treatment. Culture is the number one barrier to the fight against the disease” Dr. Dahn noted.

Deputy Minister Dahn of Liberia

Deputy Minister Dahn of Liberia

Dr. Dahn made this known in an interview during the on-going special ministerial meeting on Ebola virus disease in West Africa which opened in Accra today.  Eleven Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Health from Africa, partners and donors will for two days brainstorm to come up with a strategic plan of action on how to curb the disease.

Delegates at the meeting

Delegates at the meeting

In an opening statement, Dr. Louis Sambo of WHO said the continuous spread of the disease, to a large extent, is as a result of cultural practices and beliefs. Furthermore, constant cross border movement of people affected with the disease also facilitated its spread in the three affected countries, namely, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  According to Dr. Sambo, the current outbreak has the potential to spread to other parts of the continent if urgent measures are not put in place to curb the spread of the disease.  He therefore called for political commitment and financial support to ensure the urgently needed medical intervention by health workers.

Ghana's Minister of Health, Ms. Hanny-Sherry Ayittey (middle) and colleagues from the continent in a group picture

Ghana’s Minister of Health, Ms. Hanny-Sherry Ayittey (middle) and colleagues from the continent in a group picture

Ebola virus disease was first reported in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The recent outbreak is the highest in the number of cases, deaths and geographical spread.  Ghana is hosting the two-day meeting which seeks to share experiences, discuss issues and concerns and come up with a common strategy for accelerated response to the spread of the disease.