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ACCRA, Nov 6 (Reuters) – West African leaders on Thursday appointed Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe to supervise the region’s efforts to contain the deadly Ebola epidemic, which has killed nearly 5, 000 people, mostly in the region.
The leaders who gathered in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, called for accelerated efforts to make vaccines available against the disease, which has infected some 13, 567 people in eight countries.
Organisations should prioritise the provision of vaccines at subsidized prices to the affected countries, as well as others, they said in a communique after reviewing the impact of the disease in the region.
The Accra meeting is the third called by the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) this year to discuss how to tackle Ebola. The meeting also saw additional pledges of financial assistance from member countries and partners in support of measures to fight the disease.
Ghana’s President John Mahama, who currently chairs the regional grouping, said although some countries had made progress in stabilizing the epidemic, a lot more needed to be done to eradicate it.
“Ebola is still a serious matter and we still have a lot of urgent work to do to defeat the virus and also seize the moment to strengthen our public health systems for the future, ” Mahama said in closing remarks at the meeting, attended by a dozen regional leaders and international aid agencies.
He said members were committed to going the full length to defeat the disease.
“I wish to acknowledge that our political will is high and our commitment is strong in this battle against Ebola, ” he added.
The European Union announced it was committing 280 million euros immediately and an additional 1 billion euros for the control of the epidemic in the region.
The leaders also endorsed proposals for an interim leader and transitional government in Burkina Faso, after the country’s president Blaise Compaore was forced to resign last week following violent protests against his bid to extend his rule.