A former President, Olusegun Obasanjo; wife of the late Nelson Madela, Graca Machel, and popular singer Akon were among 51 signatories of an open citizens’ call to action against Ebola.
In an open letter, former heads of state as well as leaders from civil society and business called for more solidarity and a more coordinated approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The letter read, “As the Ebola virus becomes an overwhelming human catastrophe affecting public health, social institutions and economic well-being in Africa, we stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens in the countries victimised by this deadly disease.
“We also thank and salute the local and international health workers who are risking their lives daily, intervening on the ground to eradicate the scourge of Ebola, often without access to gloves and other protective supplies.
“We acknowledge and applaud the decision of the Economic Community of West African States’ health ministers to call for the lifting of travel bans to Ebola affected countries, which are hampering the fight against Ebola and restricting the arrival of essential expertise and equipment, as well as fuel to provide electricity, medications to treat other deadly diseases such as malaria and food to prevent famine.
“In the name and interest of our common humanity, we are collectively launching this urgent Citizens’ Call to Action.
“We call on our respective Heads of State and Government to avoid full embargo against Ebola-affected states. While we understand the legitimate concerns for the protection of their population, we remind African leaders of their obligation to pan-African solidarity and the global community of their humanitarian obligations in emergencies.
“We urge the following immediate actions:
Ensure that the flow of essential assistance can reach those in need, while maintaining economic activity necessary for sustaining life in cities and villages, by
•Authorising and implementing the local recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation
•Acknowledging the impossibility of quarantining entire nations and instead establish much-needed economic and humanitarian corridors of access – essential lifelines – both within the affected countries and between countries.
We call on African opinion leaders – including artists, athletes, filmmakers, writers, journalists, academics – to initiate or to actively take part in public information campaigns on prevention and transmission of the Ebola. These can happen via road-shows, film screenings, theatrical pieces, discussion groups, and the distribution of messages via cellphone networks. And we call upon global opinion leaders to add their talents and voices in support.
We call on the broad private sector, the pharmaceutical industry, and the research community, in particular, to fund, facilitate and make immediately available access to all known methods of prevention and treatment of this menacing threat to our global well-being.