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SADC agrees to keep borders open for trade with DRC

SADC ministers of health have called on member states to refrain from closing their borders and points of entry to people coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo and for airlines and shipping companies to maintain transport and trade links.

In a statement on the 2018 Ebola outbreak response and support to the DRC, the ministers urged member states to escalate preparedness activities, including intensified surveillance, designating isolation facilities for case management, comprehensive risk assessment, placing rapid response teams on alert, resource mobilisation, stockpiling of personal protection equipment (PPE), laboratory and medical supplies and other commodities.

“We, the Ministers of Health in the Southern African Development Community, reaffirm and support the announcement by the World Health Organisation on the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition, SADC recognises the efforts by governments, WHO, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and other partners including civil society for the quick response which includes the deployment of medical personnel and the provision of supplies to the DRC during this time,” they stated. “We acknowledge the efforts of the African Union through Africa CDC who have also begun to mobilize medical personnel for the response. SADC wishes to urge the governments of SADC member states to start to offer support through equipment, personnel and other means from governments, non – governmental organisations and the private sector as a way of providing the desired assistance to DRC.”

They stated that they recognsied that WHO remains a critical partner in providing technical guidance for the implementation of intervention at national level.

They urged SADC member states to work closely with Africa CDC and WHO in the response.

They welcomed the signs of solidarity, particularly with the deployment of skilled medical team to DRC and called on more countries and organisation to move swiftly to support the DRC government through the road map of the WHO, other UN agencies, Africa CDC and other partners so as to meet the desired requirement for the containment of the Ebola outbreak.

They renewed their commitment and joined other partners in their efforts towards the containment of the virus in the DRC.

“We emphasise on the importance of adherence to International Health Regulations especially regarding cross border transit. To this end, we urge the immigration authorities in consultation with the Ministers of Health, Africa CDC and WHO country offices in the member states to put in place the necessary prevention measures,” they stated in a statement signed on their behalf by the Troika of Ministers of Health of SADC at the margins of the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. “We urge member states to work through the existing coordination structures of Africa CDC regional collaboration centre, WHO and national level mechanism.”

They pledged to continue working tirelessly in engaging actively with the DRC and providing the necessary support in a coordinated manner.

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