Ebola: still a long way to go


- UK Task Force chiefs brief media on progress

February 12, 2015 

Heads of the UK’s Ebola Task Force in Sierra Leone gave joint interviews this week to two of Sierra Leone’s radio stations updating listeners on how the UK’s response to the Ebola crisis is progressing.

Speaking to Capital Radio’s Kris MacKormack and on SLBC’s “Tea Break” programme on Monday morning, Mr. Donal Brown from the UK’s Department for International Department (DFID) and Brigadier Andrew Hughes from the British Army said that headway has been made in fighting the disease but there is still a long way to go before life can return to normal.

Mr. Brown, who is leading the UK’s entire response in Sierra Leone, told Capital Radio: “The biggest challenge for everybody now is complacency. I think too many people in this country think the fight is over and it is not. The last mile will be the hardest we have got down to somewhere between about sixty and eighty cases nationwide a week but that is sixty or eighty cases too many.

“We already see people are slacking off on their behaviours, there are a lot more unsafe burials happening and people are not paying attention as they should do and there is always a danger that it will come back if we do not keep focused, so it is all about leadership now and focus.”

Brigadier Hughes, the most senior UK Military officer in Sierra Leone, said on SLBC: “I have been out to Port Loko, Moyamba, Bo, Kambia, I have been to Kono and I think what is really great to see is the extent to which everyone is in this together pulling together, be they Sierra Leonean, UK Department for International Development, UK Ministry of Defence, or other partners. So I think it is really good to see people working together with that common aim of defeating Ebola.”

He added: “I think my observation is that together we have all gone a long way towards defeating Ebola but we are not there yet. What I call the eighty-twenty rule applies. It may be that we have got almost perhaps eighty percent of the way there but the last twenty percent is going to take eighty percent of the effort, so there is a long way to go. There is no room for complacency and people really have got to live their lives according to the by-laws in order that we can eradicate this.”

Mr. Brown also explained to SLBC’s Hawa Barrie, “The total amount of money we have spent so far on fighting Ebola is about three hundred and twenty-five million pounds but that covers everything from the six treatment centres we have built in Sierra Leone, which is like building six, one-hundred bed hospitals around the country, the three state-of-the-art laboratories, our support of the districts and some funding of the military for all the helicopters we use for taking supplies round the country.”

“The UK is leading the international response to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. As part of this response the UK has supported more than half of all the beds available for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, funded over 100 burial teams, trained 4,000 frontline staff, provided three labs to test one-third of all samples collected nationally and delivered over one million PPE suits and 150 vehicles,” a release from the Task Force stated.

“There are also more than 650 military personal from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

The joint interviews demonstrate the extent of the UK’s response to the crisis in Sierra Leone and how closely DFID and the British Military are working together and adapting to the situation in order to help the Government of Sierra Leone beat Ebola.”