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Ebola one year on: UK calls on international community

PICTURED: International Development Secretary Alok Sharma

THE UK is calling on other countries to provide more financial support and to work with the UN, the WHO and the government of the DRC to tackle Ebola in the region one year after the current outbreak began.

According to the Department for International Development (DFID) The UK is “at the forefront of responding to the outbreak and has so far committed support including funding for a life-saving vaccine, vital work to engage communities and training for local health workers”.

The DFID added that money alone will not fight this disease and over the past two weeks alone it has killed 100 people. A new Ebola case confirmed on July 30 in Goma city, which they say emphasises the risk of further spread, the need for better supported communities and strengthened health services and effective preparedness.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Ebola has already taken far too many lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Shockingly it has wiped out entire families and, a year after this outbreak started, it is showing no sign of slowing down.

“The UK has led the way in tackling this killer disease and we can be proud of our support to create a life-saving Ebola vaccine which has inoculated 180,000 people so far. Diseases like Ebola have no respect for borders. This could be spread beyond DRC. It is essential that the rest of the international community steps up to help. If we don’t act now, many thousands more lives could be lost.”

The DFID state that UK support has gone directly on:

- Vaccinating more than 180,000 people in the DRC, which has been shown to be 97% effective in at-risk people, including health workers.

- Safe and dignified burials to allow families to bury loved ones without becoming infected themselves.

- Ebola screening at border posts including temperature checks for countries neighbouring DRC such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

- Supporting the training and vaccinating of health workers in Uganda, where three people with Ebola were brought first to a UK aid funded treatment centre. Preparedness and swift action prevented further infection.

- Supporting the training of health workers in Rwanda and vaccination planning and screening on Rwanda’s borders.

- Helping to procure sanitation equipment in South Sudan.

- A specialist UK-funded humanitarian expert deployed to Burundi to support preparedness and coordinate UK support.

There have been more than 2,600 cases reported and 1,750 lives claimed since the outbreak. In the last six months, the number of cases has increased dramatically and conflict continues to prevent health workers from getting to those most in need.

During the 2014 outbreak in Sierra Leone, the global community worked together to stop the spread of Ebola and the country is now rebuilding itself. The UK is using knowledge learnt during the 2014 outbreak to strengthen our response in the DRC and to enable a community-led response.

The UK has also deployed experts from the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (PHRST) to the DRC. Funded by UK aid through the Department of Health and Social Care, these have included epidemiologists and data scientists in eastern DRC, as well as support to the WHO in Geneva.

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