Ebola crisis: Senior minister joins UK troops fighting deadly epidemic in Sierra Leone

Ahram Online from London, Tuesday 21 Oct 2014

British International Development Minister Justine Greening travels with British troops to Sierra Leone as her country leads international response to Ebola epidemic

UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening has travelled with British troops to Sierra Leone to help with the fight against Ebola epidemic.

A hundred British military medics went to the West African country to join mounting international efforts to control the deadly virus outbreak.

The medics will train thousands of health workers in Sierra Leone, one of the three countries worst affected by the virus.

The move came few days after David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, called on European countries and the international community to spend more money to fund world and regional plans to fight against the virus.

In a letter to his European counterparts, Cameron warned the threat to European citizens would grow if efforts to combat the virus did not succeed in West Africa.

He said much more is still needed.

Greening, a senior Cabinet Minister, will visit an academy, as well as the site of a 92 bed treatment facility in Kerry Town which is in the final stages of being constructed.

The UK is leading the international response to the disease in the country, and has pledged a $125 million aid package including support for 700 treatment beds.       

Four-and-a half thousand people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have died from the epidemic so far.

According to the British support plan, about 750 British soldiers will have arrived and be working in Sierra Leone over the next few weeks.

It was announced earlier that they will be building new treatment centres and helping move huge quantities of supplies such as disinfectant chlorine and the protective clothing medical workers need while they treat patients with this incredibly infectious disease.

The British government has reassured the public that the risk from Ebola to the general public in the UK remains very low.

"Halting the disease in West Africa is the most effective way of preventing Ebola infecting people here in the UK,” Greening said.

"I look forward to seeing for myself how British Army medics and engineers, as well as our humanitarian and health workers, are spearheading the UK's efforts to contain and ultimately defeat Ebola.”

President John Mahama of Ghana, who chairs the West African regional organisation (ECOWAS) told the BBC that vital international supplies were beginning to arrive

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