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20. November 2014

STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA ON THE OCCASION OF THE NOVEMBER BOARD OF GOVERNORS, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, 20 NOVEMBER 2014, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 2 TECHNICAL COOPERATION: REPORT OF THE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND COOPERATION COMMITTEE

Chairperson,

Many lives, especially in the affected countries in West Africa have been unnecessarily lost due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus. The Ebola crisis has exposed the challenges of capacity, lack of infrastructure and other limited resources in Africa.Indeed the Ebola pandemic has brought to the fore the challenges that developing countries especially in Africa continue to face. While the immediate challenge before us requires a short term emergency response, the long-term solution rests in the provision of technical support to build resilient systems in the developing countries, especially in Africa, to withstand all types of shocks and emergencies.

South Africa sees the Agency, through its technical assistance programme-especially with the Seibersdorf Laboratories - playing an important role in this regard. We would like to make an appeal to Member States to pledge more resources towards the renual of Seibersdorf, including the BSL3 Laboratory and sincerely thank those that have already done so. We extend our appreciation to DDG Malavasi and his team for their efforts in driving this project and the Austrian Government for its willingness to assist.

We commend the Agency for the interim assistance extended to affected countries in West Africa to tackle the Ebola challenge.We look forward to a comprehensive proposal to be submitted to in March 2015, for the Board’s approval.

Madame Chairperson,

Under the leadership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries in the region have agreed on a regional response framework to tackle the Ebola pandemic should a need arise. Accordingly the region has instituted the following measures:

(i) Drafted and approved minimum standard checklist that will be used as a regional guide on the management of Ebola Virus;

(ii) Agreed to put in place a regional fund to assist member states inemergency situations;

(iii) Designated South Africa as a centre of excellence in Ebola laboratory diagnosis in the region;

(iv) Established an inter-ministerial committee at Regional level to coordinate a regional response.

On its part South Africa has allocated an amount of 2 million euros to assist in dealing with Ebola pandemic both in the region, should a need arise, and extending assistance to affected countries in West Africa. Since the outbreak of Ebola South Africa through its National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has deployed a mobile diagnostic laboratory in affected countries in Sierra Leone in order to build a rapid and more widely accessible diagnostic capacity. This mobile laboratory is more accessible even to the remotest areas and thus obviating logistical challenges. Teams of specialists from South Africa run the laboratories and train local health care experts.  To date more than 2000 tests have been conducted on sight to identify those infected with the Ebola virus.  The IAEA is supporting the laboratory with, among others, back-up equipment and kit reagents and an ultra freezer.  The Agency’s ability to mobilise this support at short notice is greatly appreciated.

The South African government has also mobilised the private sector in South Africa to provide support to the humanitarian response.  To date services, goods and cash to the value of approximately 1 million USD have been pledged.

Madame Chairperson,

Significant resources from within Africa have also been mobilised to fight the outbreak. The African Union has deployed over a hundred volunteer medical and health workers comprising of epidemiologists, medical doctors, clinicians, public health specialists and communications personnel  to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

In addition, African business persons and entrepreneurs have joined hands and have established an Ebola response fund under the auspices of the African Union Foundation. This initiative is managed by the African Development Bank, and is aimed at boosting efforts to equip, train and deploy African health workers across borders to fight the pandemic.

Chairperson,

The Ebola pandemic was avoidable. It has exploited the most vulnerable. This is a wake-up call to all us to redouble our efforts to work together to tackle poverty and underdevelopment that most countries in the developing countries are faced with.

WE wish to thank those countries, especially from outside the African continent that have responded so magnanimously to the crisis that has afflicted some countries West Africa.

I thank you.

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