As a side event of the 30th Session of COMCEC, SESRIC and Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB) have jointly organized a special session on “The Economic and Social Impacts of Epidemics and OIC Response: The Case of Ebola” with the aim of discussing the critical actions that need to be taken to halt the spread of the disease and reduce the impact on the economy and the short and long term health of citizens of the countries in the West Africa. The event is organized within the framework of the new IDB & SESRIC report on “Managing Disasters and Conflicts in OIC Countries”, which was submitted to the COMCEC, and in an effort to mobilize actions on the part of OIC member countries in support of disaster risk management programs and sustainable development in OIC countries by focusing on the particular case of Ebola.
In his opening statements, Prof. Savas Alpay, Director General of SESRIC, stated that in addition to its impacts on human lives, Ebola has ravaged the economies of West African countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Neighbouring countries of the affected area have imposed restrictions on the movement of people and goods, including border closures, which reduced internal and regional trade, transport and tourism. Prof. Alpay noted that the largest economic effect stems from social aversion behaviour driven by fear of contagion, which has so far led to participation in public and labour force, resulting in failures in small and medium economic activity. He also noted that the extraordinary and unprecedented social and economic impact of the crisis can be minimized if OIC member countries can succeed to isolate the Ebola but not the affected countries. Therefore, the economic and social ties with the affected OIC countries need to be maintained to reduce further shocks and ensure access to social services for the affected population. The on-going efforts both at international and intra-OIC level will definitely renew the confidence of international tourism, travel, trade and investment partners in the West Africa in general and in the worst affected countries in particularly.
As the key note speaker, H.E. Dr. Qutb Mustafa Sano, Minister of International Cooperation in Guinea, shared the experiences and challenges which Guinea (as one of the most affected countries by Ebola) and the West African region face to fight Ebola. He briefed the participants on the economic and social impacts of Ebola in Guinea and shared their experiences in fighting Ebola. H.E. Dr. Sano called upon Muslim countries to deepen and consolidate their moral and financial supports to Guinean people. Moreover, representative of Doctors Worldwide, a NGO engaged in health related humanitarian relief activities, addressed the meeting and expressed their commitment to scale up their engagement in Ebola-affected countries.
The meeting was attended by members of the delegations from the affected countries as well as other member countries and stakeholders. During the meeting, ministers as well as senior officials from the region shared their experiences and invited the OIC member countries to take more serious actions in supporting the affected countries in West Africa. The meeting made concrete recommendations on the steps which need to be taken against the transmission of Ebola disease.