The Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is the worst since the disease was first diagnosed in central Africa in 1976. The socio-economic impact of the outbreak in the region has been devastating and has reversed the impressive progress of our three nations, each of which was emerging from decades of conflict.

To date, the region has recorded a total of 24,872 cases and 10,311 deaths, nearly ten times the number of total deaths from every other Ebola outbreak combined, hitting our nations at a time when we had each embarked on large-scale reforms and were leaving behind a tragic past.

The unchecked spread of the disease exposed the weaknesses in our national health and security systems, our regional structures and coordination capacity, as well as the response abilities of global public health institutions. We were all ill-prepared to deal with the ferocity of this disease.

Today, we are closer to winning the global war against Ebola as a result of an improved, adapted and coordinated local and international response. Though the fight to contain and eradicate the disease is not over throughout the region, its spread has slowed, and planning for our recovery has begun.

We, the heads of State of the three affected countries along with Cote d’Ivoire met in Conakry, Guinea on February 15 under the Mano River Union, to adopt a common strategy to end the Ebola epidemic in the sub-region, and to address our post-Ebola socio-economic recovery needs.

This meeting was followed by a high-level engagement in Brussels on March 3 and a meeting of our technical committees in Freetown, Sierra Leone on March 16. We will further consolidate our coordinated efforts when we come together to Washington, DC for the Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank this week.

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