Since the first case of Ebola occurred in March 2014 in Guinea, Ebola set off a global panic and resulted in thousands of fatalities. Although most of the fatalities were in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Ebola outbreak ravaged many West African communities and continued into 2015.
In 2014, House of Mercy Children’s Home, Lagos, Nigeria (HOM) responded to the outbreak in the affected countries by contributing towards the distribution of public health information to prevent more people from contracting the disease, provision of fuel for ambulances and emergency response vehicles, disinfection of public toilets and spaces, distribution of hand-washing kits and training of health workers.
Lofa, a dense jungle overlapping Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the very place that had a large HIV outbreak in the 1980s is considered to be the likely source of the Ebola outbreak.
Regrettably, the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will never be remembered as an example of good leadership, neither by the governments of the countries affected nor by other nations and the international health organisations mandated to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.
We are keeping hope alive for improved health care systems in Africa.
According to a research carried out by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), an estimated 50 billion dollars leave Africa illicitly every year mostly to Western countries while at least one trillion dollars have left Africa secretly over the last 50 years. About 75% of resources that leave the continent’s shores in secrecy are traceable to corporate tax avoidance in the form of trade mispricing by multinational corporations, many with headquarters in G7 countries; debt burden or colonial tax imposed on many former colonies; and criminal networks engaged in drugs and human trafficking, animal poaching, and theft of oil and minerals. Only 5% of the illicit financial flows are traceable to official corruption such as payment of bribes and kickbacks by foreign corporations to government officials so that the country can relinquish control of its natural resources and resource extraction operations. These funds could otherwise have been used for investments in power supplies, schools, hospitals, housing, sanitation, transportation, safe roads and other much needed public services.
Business as usual is not an option for Africa. Delivering and sustaining results for children will require not only action by both governments and the public at large but also a wholesale change in the way we think and the way we act. With adequate social investment in the health, education and protection of children aligned with financial transparency, good governance, enforcement of law and order, natural resource governance and sound economic and environmental management and planning, Africa has the potential to give all the continent’s children the opportunity to survive, develop and reach their full potential.