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Justine Greening: One year on from Ebola reaching Sierra Leone

A statement from the International Development Secretary, 12 months on from the first confirmed Ebola case in the country.

Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

A year ago today it was confirmed that the deadly Ebola virus had reached Sierra Leone. In the months that followed this terrible disease swept across the country claiming thousands of lives, devastating communities and temporarily crippling the economy.

The UK can be immensely proud of its life saving work leading the international humanitarian response in Sierra Leone. Working hand in hand with the government of Sierra Leone and its people, we have supported them through every step of this disease — setting up labs to quickly diagnose Ebola, raising awareness about how the disease is spread, building treatment centres, training frontline health workers, and funding teams to provide safe and dignified burials. The number of cases has now fallen from a peak of over 500 a week in November to just 8 last week. We won’t have won this battle until we get to zero infections and stamp out Ebola. We will continue to work with Sierra Leone’s government and local communities to seek out and isolate every new case.

There is no room for complacency, but we hope that the end is in sight. The UK will continue to stand by Sierra Leone until the job is done but it is vital that others now join us to help Sierra Leone get back on its feet. UK support will help get health and education services up and running, kick start the economy and protect the people most affected by the disease — including the children who lost their families. We cannot wipe out the suffering this disease has inflicted but we can help to build a stronger, more prosperous Sierra Leone that is better prepared to tackle disease outbreaks in the future.