February 23, 2015
UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has said that UK personnel have made a vital contribution to tackle Ebola, during a visit to Sierra Leone.
Arriving in Freetown, Mr. Fallon met with President Ernest Bai Koromo at State House. Their meeting began with an ‘Ebola handshake’, a greeting now widespread in Sierra Leone where elbows are offered to avoid any potential transmission of the disease through body contact.
Mr. Fallon then visited sites where the British military has provided key support, including the Kerry Town Treatment Unit (KTTU) where regular and reserve military medics are treating healthcare workers with Ebola; the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Argus which deployed in September and has been providing reassurance and aviation support to the people of Sierra Leone; and the District Ebola Response Centre (DERC) in the northern town of Port Loko.
British troops stationed in Port Loko have created a command and control structure which co-ordinates numerous stakeholders, enabling progress against the disease in the district.
The Port Loko DERC is one of eight in the country overseen by the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC).
UK Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon, said: “It’s been an honour to visit our troops currently in Sierra Leone and see first-hand their outstanding work. And make no mistake, what they’re doing is unique – helping to slow the spread of a deadly plague.
“By working with Whitehall colleagues and international NGO partners, our 700 service men and women have helped the people of Sierra Leone to start to get on top of this dreadful disease. We’re not at the stage of seeing zero new cases emerge but we have helped to reduce the number significantly. And I shudder to think what could have happened had we not intervened. The British people should – once again – all be hugely proud of our armed forces.”