In the past decade alone, the WHO has declared five Global Health Emergencies. Viruses, bacteria, and fungi spread around the world with greater effectiveness and speed than ever before – and so this team is at the forefront of global preparedness efforts.
An outbreak is a sudden increase in occurrences of a disease in a particular time and place. Major disease outbreaks, such as Ebola in West Africa, Diphtheria in Bangladesh and Yemen, and the current Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrate the challenges faced by governments and the global humanitarian community in responding to these situations.
Outbreaks have a disastrous impacts on families, societies, systems, and economies. The effects stretch beyond the lives tragically lost – health systems are unable to cope, schooling is disrupted and every day livelihoods are put at risk – which can have a long lasting impact on the poorest communities.
The UK was at the forefront of the response to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Sierra Leone. The UK Ebola Response Programme provided assistance to control the epidemic by supporting in-country frontline health workers and underpinning a fractured health system in Sierra Leone. The UK’s aim was to deliver high-quality patient care and support the national healthcare workers during the crisis, under the most challenging conditions.
UK-Med worked with the Department for International Development (DFID), Department of Health, NHS England and International NGOs to recruit NHS volunteers to work in a number of DFID funded Ebola Treatment Centres in Sierra Leone.
“I will never forget the celebration arranged by the local community and local staff when the final patient was discharged from the Ebola Treatment Centre.” – Rod Kelly (Paediatrician, Neonatal Transport Fellow and UK-Med member)