Skip to main content

What UK aid is doing to help stop the spread of Ebola

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Health

Today (Monday 19 August), World Humanitarian Day, International Development Secretary Alok Sharma announced he would allocate £8 million of UK aid for Ebola preparedness for the countries neighbouring the DRC such as Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda.

Trusted partners on the ground will use this support for prevention work to help contain the outbreak and stop its spread. The funding will deliver more temperature checks at border crossings, support Ebola treatment units, provide clean water and sanitation, and enable engagement with local communities to raise awareness of the dangers of Ebola.

The story was on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme’s bulletins this morning. The programme ran a piece on the announcement, trailing the International Development Secretary’s upcoming visit to Uganda to see the preparedness efforts first-hand. The piece also featured words from theInternational Development Secretary who said:

“This UK aid to countries that neighbour the DRC will make a real difference in helping to prevent further spread of this deadly outbreak.

“Livelihoods depend on people being able to cross borders safely so it is essential we continue to put in place the tools to contain Ebola. If we don’t, the outbreak will spread and many thousands more could suffer – ultimately Ebola is a potential threat to us all.”

To mark the announcement, the Huffington Post also published an op-ed by Mr Sharma in which he said: “the world cannot afford to ignore this disease, nor the threat it poses, not just to the DRC, but also to the wider region and beyond.” The op-ed also makes clear the vital work UK aid does in the fight against Ebola.

Media coverage also included an interview UK Med Obstetrician Benjamin Black on BBC World Service, Public Health England’s Dr Conall Watson on Good Morning Scotland referencing the announcement and Public Health Wales’ infectious diseases consultant Brendan Healy on Swansea Sound Radio.

UK aid has already helped a range of response activities, including the vaccination of more than 180,000 people. To date, the UK has given £45 million to the response in the DRC and £15 million to help neighbouring countries prepare for and prevent the spread of Ebola. DFID recently announced up to £50 million additional support for the response and the UK is actively calling on others to step up their efforts.

Please see the full readout from the Huffington Post op-ed by the International Development Secretary below.

Ebola is a horrific disease. It spreads and kills swiftly, causing its victims untold suffering. Left unchecked, it will wipe out entire families, run riot through communities and spread across borders, making it a threat to us all.

In the last week, details emerged of new treatments which could cure this lethal disease. This is encouraging news and builds on the UK’s efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak which is happening right now in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The world cannot afford to ignore this disease, nor the threat it poses, not just to the DRC, but also to the wider region and beyond.

Through UK aid, we have already helped deliver life-saving vaccines, built treatment centres and provided ambulances and protective suits to fight Ebola in the DRC and we are applying the expertise we acquired during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa of 2013 to 2016.

But with an epidemic like this, it is not only a matter of having the right equipment, but also having the right people.

Right now, doctors and health workers from the UK, from around the world, and from the region itself are taking on Ebola on the frontline. These brave men and women are risking their lives to deliver aid and save the lives of others. For this selfless act we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Almost 2,000 people in the DRC and the surrounding region have lost their lives to the disease in the last year. Recent cases in the province of South Kivu and the densely populated city of Goma, on the Rwandan border, highlight the very real threat Congolese people and aid workers face every day.

Only the West Africa Ebola outbreak was bigger than the current crisis.

But the West Africa outbreak was different. The risks in eastern DRC do not come only from the disease itself. Aid workers are trying to deliver life-saving treatment in an active conflict zone. It is appalling that they are routinely targeted and attacked.

And that is why today, on World Humanitarian Day, I want to highlight the important work they do and recognise the extraordinary commitment they display.

Later this week, I am travelling to Uganda to hear directly from some of these brave health workers about their experiences.

I will make sure on my visit that everyone knows they have the full support of the UK, as we continue to show leadership in the fight against Ebola.

That is why I am announcing that the UK will give an extra £8 million to countries that neighbour eastern DRC – Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda – to help them prepare for and prevent the spread of Ebola.

This money will build on the leading work that the UK is already doing to tackle this deadly outbreak and strengthen health systems across Africa.

In Uganda, we have already helped build two treatment units, trained health workers in 22 districts, funded 16 ambulances to help people in areas most at risk and provided protective clothing at borders to help screen people, as well as supporting the vaccination of health workers.

With preventative measures like these, three cases of Ebola in Uganda in June were detected immediately. Health workers on the ground worked tirelessly to treat the people affected but their lives could not be saved.

One of the key lessons we have learned from the DRC outbreak of Ebola and from the outbreak in West Africa, is that preventing the spread of the disease requires neighbouring countries to be prepared to stop it crossing borders.

There is still potentially a high risk of Ebola spreading to other countries surrounding the DRC, as people cross porous borders every day.

We know that more needs to be done to make people aware of the dangers. People coming forward for treatment in the first few days of showing symptoms is key to ending the Ebola outbreak, so we must tackle the stigma and scepticism surrounding vaccines and health centres.

To do this effectively, we must support health workers and community leaders in their work to tackle and eradicate this horrific disease.

The world cannot afford to ignore this disease, nor the threat it poses, not just to the DRC, but also to the wider region and beyond.

Sharing and comments

Share this page