News story

The end of the Ebola epidemic

The World Health Organisation declares the widespread Ebola crisis in West Africa is over.

Picture: Simon Davis/DFID
Celina Kamanda survived Ebola with the help of UK aid. Picture: Simon Davis/DFID

Today, (14 January 2016) the World Health Organisation has declared Liberia free of Ebola.

It puts an end to the widespread outbreak in West Africa, with Liberia joining Guinea and Sierra Leone to go 42 days without a new case - which is double the incubation time of the virus.

It also marks an end to the world’s worst outbreak of the disease, which killed over 11,300 people in West Africa alone and with cases reaching around the globe to the US and Europe.

UPDATE - 15 January 2016

A new case of Ebola has emerged in Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organisation. Small-scale flare-ups like this are to be expected. With the Ebola epidemic at large over, we will continue to work with Sierra Leone to prevent such recurrences becoming another widespread crisis.

The UK led the international response to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, committing £427 million to ending the epidemic.

Feature: Life After Ebola - see the full story

Picture: Simon Davis/DFID
Picture: Simon Davis/DFID

Britain worked alongside the US, who led global efforts in Liberia, and France who focussed international support on Guinea.

Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

This is a huge milestone for West Africa which is now free from Ebola for the first time in over 2 years thanks to an unprecedented global response.

Britain led the fight against this devastating disease in Sierra Leone, and I am hugely proud of our brave medics, scientists, military and aid workers who worked tirelessly and put their lives on the line. Their efforts saved thousands of lives in West Africa and helped protect the UK from an epidemic that was only ever a plane ride away.

Sierra Leone has made tremendous progress in tackling the outbreak and we will continue to stand by them. By strengthening health systems, funding vaccine trials and working with survivors we are helping the country get back on its feet and prepare for future crises, so it can look ahead to a brighter future.

More than 250 UK aid staff worked on the crisis. Over 1,500 British military personnel were deployed to Sierra Leone to help oversee the construction of six UK-funded treatment centres, and trained over 4,000 Sierra Leonean and international healthcare workers.

The UK also deployed over 150 NHS volunteers who worked on the frontline to support over 1,500 treatment and isolation beds – more than half of all the beds available for Ebola patients in the country.

Infographic: In numbers - full version on Flickr

Infographic: Ricci Coughlan/DFID
Infographic: Ricci Coughlan/DFID

Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan said:

So much was needed and so much was accomplished by national authorities, heroic health workers, civil society, local and international organizations and generous partners. But our work is not done and vigilance is necessary to prevent new outbreaks.

Time to rebuild

Britain will help Sierra Leone to get people back in business, improve healthcare and get children back to school.

The UK has committed a total of £240 million to support Sierra Leone’s recovery over the next 2 years, of which a portion will be focused on building resilience and preparedness for future outbreaks.

Our ongoing support for Sierra Leone includes:

  • Help for over 4,000 Ebola survivors, who face ongoing health problems and potential stigmatisation. The UK is contributing towards a safe and usable Ebola vaccine for future use, as well as medical advice and counselling for survivors.

  • Support for the long-term recovery of Sierra Leone, including rebuilding the health system to improve sanitation and access to healthcare, as well as developing the education system to allow schools to reopen safely and catch up on lost time.

  • Early recovery of the private sector by helping promising medium-sized businesses in Sierra Leone escape the country’s current economic slump, restart growth and create jobs.

Published 14 January 2016
Last updated 15 January 2016 + show all updates
  1. Update on the emergence of a new case of Ebola in Sierra Leone.
  2. First published.