Israel’s Human Rights Counsellor, Nelly Shiloh, spoke about Israel’s recovery efforts in Ebola affected communities at the UN’s International Ebola Recovery conference: "The focus of our efforts should be to address the needs of the survivors and to help restore properly functioning health services."
I would like to begin by thanking UNDP for convening this important conference. Last year the world was witness to the largest and most wide-spread Ebola epidemic in human history, affecting millions of lives in West Africa. It is now over a year since the initial announcement of the outbreak, and, blessedly, there has been a tremendous decline in the number of cases of Ebola. However, much work still needs to be done. The consequences of this horrific disaster continue to plague the survivors, as well as the families that have lost loved ones.
Last year we saw the epidemic deteriorate from a disease outbreak to a humanitarian crisis to a catastrophe that threatened the stability of the entire region. Diseases know no bounds, and the widespread suffering felt by the communities and homes in West Africa was immense, and still is.
During the crisis, an immediate response was critical. The world came together to send resources and aid to help those in need. Israel donated 8.75 million dollars to the Multi-Partner Trust Fund, as we recognized the vital need for international collaboration in responding to the crisis. Israel is a small country, but this contribution was the 6th largest out of all donating countries, and the highest contribution per capita.
Israel is no stranger to immediate emergency response, and was committed to taking part in the world-wide effort. Israel quickly mobilized and sent field clinics, called "Hospitals of Hope", to Liberia and Sierra Leone to be run by specialists, who also helped to train local health workers to fight the disease. These mobile clinics came fully equipped with twenty hospital beds, isolation kits, protective clothing for the medical staff and all medical equipment needed to treat patients. At the same time, Israeli NGOs worked on the ground to help locate and recruit additional medical staff.
In the aftermath of the Ebola epidemic, Israel understands the need for continued support for the survivors and effected families. The needs of the people in this region have shifted from the immediate to the long term. The focus of our efforts should be to address the needs of the survivors and to help restore properly functioning health services, especially in the rural communities.
Working closely with the United Nations Development Program, we reassigned the use of the clinics to best serve the people living in these communities. IsraAID, an Israeli-based humanitarian agency, entered into a standard Project Partnership Agreement with UNDP, to transform one of above-mentioned clinics into a semi-permanent outpatient facility.
This facility will provide a range of health services to the surrounding area, including: maternal and child healthcare, specialist care for the long term effects of Ebola and pyscho-social services. This collaboration, which will combine UNDP’s experience with supporting and implementing recovery processes with IsraAID’s day-to-day management of the clinic, we are certain, will be vital to its success.
An African proverb teaches that "Disease comes and goes like the rain, but health is like the sun that illuminates the whole village." It is our duty to ensure that the devastated communities in West Africa are restored to full health so that these countries can thrive once again.