10 October 2014 - General Assembly - Ebola - Statement by Mr. François-Xavier Deniau, Representative of France to the UN
Thank you for organizing this meeting. We are facing a health crisis that is unprecedented in terms of its scale and its swiftness, with the number of people infected almost doubling every month.
This health disaster which has already led to thousands of deaths – and we should first of all think of these victims – is posing a threat to hundreds of thousands of people. We simply have to put an end to this scourge which has also become a threat to peace, security and development.
France supports the Secretary-General’s determination to respond in an appropriate manner to this health and social disaster. France welcomes the establishment of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (MEER) and in particular the recent deployment of a regional coordination platform in Accra, as well as national coordination bodies in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, in which we will play our full role. In order to address such a serious health crisis, we must all step up our efforts. We must avoid any duplication of efforts. That’s why good coordination is key to ensuring the effectiveness of the international community’s response.
France has risen to the challenge. First of all, at the political level, through the visit by our minister of state for cooperation and development on September 13 to Guinea in order to optimize our action. Since the beginning of September, our medical reserve personnel have been on the ground in Guinea’s Forest Region at the epicenter of the epidemic in order to help prepare for the establishment of health facilities in Guinea. The first French health center will open very soon in coordination with the Red Cross, and will have around 50 beds. France has already delivered several tons of medical and protective equipment to help support the health centers. In terms of research, France’s infectious disease centers have also been involved in this fight. The Pasteur Institute and INSERM (France’s National Institute for Health and Medical Research) identified the epidemic when it first appeared, thereby facilitating efforts to monitor it and develop future treatments. In order to expand these efforts, France is lending support to the creation of a Pasteur Institute in Guinea in the next few weeks.
Overall, French bilateral aid currently stands at more than €35 million. It amounts to more than €70 million if we take multilateral contributions into account.
In the face of the globalization of this threat, we must also develop preventive measures. Prevention means helping the neighboring countries not yet affected by the epidemic to prepare for this possibility; helping them to strengthen their healthcare systems, the only means of slowing down this disaster. France has already initiated programs with several countries in the region to which it has allocated more than €15 million to prepare the healthcare systems for a possible Ebola outbreak.
In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute once again to the extraordinary dedication of all healthcare professionals, with a special thought for those working for Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross, who have been working, with exceptional professionalism, on the frontline since the start of this crisis.