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Remarks on Ebola Ministers Meeting

Alex M. Azar II
U.N. General Assembly Press
September 25, 2019
New York City, NY

Together, we still stop this Ebola outbreak, work with the DRC to strengthen their health system, and build a stronger foundation for preventing such outbreaks in the future.

As Prepared for Delivery

Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us here today. I am Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. I want to begin by thanking the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the WHO for co-hosting the meeting we all just attended, a meeting of regional ministers of health on Ebola preparedness and response.

DRC President Tshisekedi and Director-General Tedros have played an important role focusing the response to this outbreak

I’m grateful for President Tshisekedi’s presence at the meeting this morning, and thank you, Director-General Tedros, for your presence here today.

I also want to thank all of the Ministers of Health we had in attendance, as well as the United Nations and the World Bank, for participating in this vital meeting.

I wish we did not have to have this meeting, which brought together important stakeholders more than one year after the outbreak in the DRC began.

It is necessary, however, because the unique circumstances of the eastern DRC, with civil unrest and such close proximity to international borders, have made it the most complex Ebola outbreak in history.

This outbreak cannot be stopped without close and committed cooperation among all stakeholders: the nations in the region, partner nations from around the world, the U.N. and the WHO, and nongovernmental partners like NGOs, faith communities, and industry.

Thankfully, today’s meeting underscored that we do have that kind of ongoing cooperation. I find the committed attitudes of my fellow ministers incredibly encouraging, in fact.

Today’s meeting should send a powerful message that the Ministers of Health here today will work together closely and relentlessly until this outbreak is over.

That commitment is on display to the world today, but I also saw it on the ground last week, during a trip to the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda. In Kinshasa, I met with President Tshisekedi and Minister Longondo, in addition to other DRC leaders, like Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe of the INRB, the DRC’s biomedical research institution and a globally important leader in Ebola therapeutics. I also had the chance to visit with Ebola patients and community health workers in the eastern DRC. Meeting people who have survived this disease, restored to health by the commitment of brave health workers, was a moving experience.

Finally, my trip also included visits with President Kagame and Minister Gashumba in Rwanda, and President Museveni and Minister Aceng in Uganda, where I was able to thank them for their work in securing their own nations against this Ebola outbreak.

Cross-border cooperation was an important topic of our discussion today, as was the continuation of the United States’ provision of financing, personnel deployments, technical assistance, and support for researching, manufacturing, and purchasing therapeutics and vaccines.

This work is one of the top global health priorities for President Trump, and it will remain so until the outbreak is ended.

We have many nations represented here today because diseases like Ebola know no borders.

But, with cooperation like we had here today, and when we focus organizations like the WHO and the U.N. on these infectious threats, we can have real success in containing diseases and saving lives.

Together, we still stop this Ebola outbreak, work with the DRC to strengthen their health system, and build a stronger foundation for preventing such outbreaks in the future.

Thank you for your attention today, and I will now hand things over to Minister Longondo.

Content created by Speechwriting and Editorial Division 
Content last reviewed on September 25, 2019