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British medical heroes deploying to combat deadly diphtheria outbreak in Bangladesh

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British medics and firefighters funded by UK aid are this week flying out to Bangladesh to help deal with a deadly outbreak of diphtheria.


They are stepping up to help the 600,000 plus Rohingya refugees who have fled their homes in Burma since August,  and are now living in a refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, and at risk from the infection.


UK aid is once again leading the global response to the crisis


On Thursday 28 December it was widely reported that the UK Emergency Medical Team, a collaboration between DFID, the NHS, Public Health England and UK Med, would be sending 40 doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives and firefighters to save the thousands of lives at risk of contracting diphtheria in the camp.


Coverage of the team’s departure featured extensively throughout the day across all major national and regional outlets.


Two of the medics appeared on BBC Breakfast. This was followed by interviews with BBC World Service and Sky News.


The afternoon saw a host of interviews conducted whilst the team was at Manchester Airport before their departure. Coverage appeared on the lunch-time BBC and  ITV national and regional news. It also ran on radio stations, including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio 4, BBC Scotland and BBC Wales.  There was additional coverage on the BBC News 24 news channel and in The Sun and Metro newspapers.


A number of the medics also featured in a video on our Twitter channel.


Paediatric nurse Becky Platt, who works at Watford General Hospital, will be posting regular updates about her deployment in a video diary.


International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said of the team:


“This will be an absolutely critical deployment, in a race against time for men, women and children at risk of dying from one of the world’s cruellest infections.


“Our brave British medical heroes are the world leaders in saving lives, acting rapidly in crisis to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.


“I have heard first-hand the harrowing stories of Rohingya families who have escaped persistent persecution, violence and tragedy. In the face of this new horror it is absolutely right that we step up to end their relentless suffering and stop them falling prey to a rampaging, preventable disease that could kill thousands.”


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