West African leaders, international humanitarian aid organizations, and Washington, D.C. leaders convened at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest D.C. to discuss the ongoing Ebola outbreak plaguing countries in West Africa.
The Washington Ebola Summit was organized by the Diaspora Ebola Network, in a joint effort with organizations including West African diaspora organizations; the D.C. Office on African Affairs; the D.C. Department of Health; Samaritan’s Purse; the Centers for Disease Control and prevention; and USAID.
The organizations used the summit to discuss ways to increase fundraising initiatives for humanitarian aides and increase efforts to stop the spread of Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Guinea.
The summit was also attended by a number of national and local dignitaries including the ambassador of the Republic of Guinea, Mamady Conde; ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Bockari Kortu Stevens; the ambassador of the Republic of Liberia, Jeremiah Sulunteh; a representative from the Embassy of Mali, Moustapha Cissé; and Ward 7 Councilwoman Yvette Alexander (D).
According to Conde, the West African countries are facing one of the worst Ebola outbreaks in history.
“The Ebola virus has caused so much death and desolation, that it is essential today that the international community is more mobilized to eradicate this scourge,” Conde emphasized during his speech on how the virus has affected his country thus far.
Conde, along with other African ambassadors who attended the summit, called for a national mobilization between African countries and international organizations to work together in fighting to completely eradicate the disease.
Stevens said the Ebola outbreak was an international emergency that shouldn’t be deemed an African problem. He explained that the disease isn’t just rampant in Africa, but could spread through several channels to other countries.
“There are many ways Ebola can come into the United States,” Stevens said, arguing that local leaders and organizations need to press top officials to stop the disease.
According to Save the Children, an estimated 10.3 million children and adolescents under 18 in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been indirectly or directly affected by the disease. Sadly, Conde said the disease has increasingly turned children into orphans, and some schools have been shut down for months due to fear of the disease.
Even with the international call to fight this deadly disease, Stevens said Africans, especially doctors and nurses, need to be at the forefront of the issue.
“We ourselves as Africans have to step up,” he told the hundreds of people who attended the summit.