Earlier this week the Prime Minister hosted a reception to thank and congratulate in person some of the 3,000 people who received a new medal to recognise their bravery and hard work in helping to tackle Ebola in West Africa.
A number of the military and civilian personnel, who travelled from the UK to work in high risk areas to stop the spread of the disease, visited Downing Street to be awarded their medals by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, International Development Secretary Justine Greening, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
Medals will go to the thousands of people who helped during the crisis on behalf of the UK in West Africa – such as those from our armed forces, NHS doctors and nurses, laboratory specialists, civil servants and non-governmental organisations.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:
This medal is about paying tribute to the hard work of thousands of British heroes up and down the country who travelled to West Africa and put themselves at considerable personal risk.
From setting up Emergency Treatment Centres and rapid diagnostics labs, through to providing vital safety equipment training, ensuring burials happened safely, and safeguarding orphans, we owe them all a debt of gratitude.
The Ebola outbreak was one of the most devastating epidemics of our generation, but as a result of their efforts many lives were saved and the outbreak contained.
When the world faced this crisis Britain and brave British medical staff, military personnel, aid workers and volunteers stepped up to the plate.
This is the first time in recent history that a medal has been created specifically to recognise those who have tackled a humanitarian crisis. It is in recognition of the highly dangerous environment that workers were required to enter.
The Ebola medal was designed by John Bergdahl, who has been an engraver for over 40 years and recently designed a new coin set to celebrate the birth of Prince George. Mr Bergdahl’s design was chosen following a competition run by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee. It shows a flame on a background depicting the Ebola virus – above this are the words ‘For Service’ and below ‘West Africa Ebola Epidemic’. The obverse bears a portrait of Her Majesty The Queen designed by Ian Rank-Broadley.
The UK government has committed £427 million to tackling Ebola. Our contribution has included supporting more than half of all the beds available for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, funding over 100 burial teams, training 4,000 frontline staff, providing 3 labs to test one third of all samples collected nationally, and delivering over 1 million safety suits and 150 vehicles, including ambulances.
Notes to editors
- Eligibility was set out in detail in a command paper: The Ebola medal for service in West Africa.
- Eligible personnel including civil servants, military, UK Med, Public Health England, Stabilisation Unit, Conflict Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE) Operations Team, UK nationals who worked for DFID-funded NGOs supporting government efforts who served at least 21 days of continuous service (or 30 days of accumulated service) within the geographical territories of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and their territorial waters would automatically receive the medal.
- The medal will be sent to most people automatically, but a few people who have not gone as part of the UK government effort will need to nominate themselves.