Statement: Continued focus needed on heroic frontline health workers as Ebola recovery begins in West Africa
By Frontline Health Workers Coalition Staff
Frontline Health Workers Coalition (FHWC) Director Vince Blaser issued the following reaction to the World Health Organization’s declaration today that all known chains of Ebola transmission have been stopped in West Africa:
“WHO’s announcement is excellent news for all who have been involved in the fight to end this epidemic, especially for the communities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have faced immeasurable hardships and heartbreak from this virus.
Frontline health workers have rightly been widely recognized for their heroic actions and central role in getting all three countries to zero, especially the 513 health workers who have given their lives to save others in their communities and around the world. They have been supported by a massive local and international response, including a major, cross-agency response from the U.S. government.
As the affected countries transition to recovery, country-led plans to build resilient and sustainable frontline health workforces connected to stronger health systems must continue to be supported.
Globally, far greater attention needs to be paid to address the fact that at least 400 million people worldwide lack access to the essential health services frontline health workers provide.
As we at the Frontline Health Workers Coalition wrote in our November 2014 policy recommendations at the height of the epidemic, ‘Access to competent and supported health workers can no longer be allowed to languish as a global health policy afterthought. The heroic sacrifices of frontline health workers must be met with honor, compassion and support for their efforts.’
The FHWC will continue to push for continued strong U.S. leadership to build a global frontline health workforce to end preventable maternal and child deaths, achieve an AIDS-free generation, and ensure we never again have a public health crises of this magnitude.”
For more on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition’s Ebola-related advocacy efforts, visit frontlinehealthworkers.org/ebola. **UPDATE**: January 15th 2016: A new case of Ebola has been confirmed in Sierra Leone, reflecting the ongoing risk of new flare-ups of the virus in affected countries. WHO stressed in a statement 14 January, that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone remain at high risk of additional small outbreaks of Ebola in the coming months due to the virus persisting in survivors after recovery.