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FPH commends UK government action on Ebola

FPH has published a position statement on Ebola.

In this policy statement, we outline the scale of the threat, both to West Africa and also the UK, and what short and long term measures are needed to confront, control and manage this outbreak. Also outlined are those actions that FPH can take in support of our partners in Government and non-governmental organisations, including through FPH’s Special Interest Group, Public Health Africa.

With documented cases of Ebola in West Africa now exceeding 10,000,  analysis from the World Health Organization indicates a possible 5-10,000 new cases per week by December. This outbreak is infecting around two people for every one who gets it, and has a mortality rate of up to 70%. It is crippling communities and livelihoods, overwhelming already weak health infrastructures, putting education systems at a standstill and raising the spectre of hunger and famine.

FPH supports the UN Secretary General in his petition for greater international commitment, and calls for urgent, in-depth, infrastructure needs assessments to prevent spread and for efforts to be expanded. This should include clean water supply, disposal of waste and clinical waste as well as safe burial. We commend the UK Government’s pledge of preventative, healthcare and humanitarian efforts, particularly in Sierra Leone.

In the longer term, FPH recognises that Ebola is a symptom of low economic status and that development needs to be across the full social spectrum, beyond building hospitals and ensuring a robust healthcare system. A post-2015 sustainable development agenda is needed to tackle poverty and hunger, improve health and education, make cities sustainable and combat climate change. 

FPH stresses that the overall risk to people in the UK is low. Ebola is only transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person, and, while there is a higher risk for humanitarian healthcare workers exposed to patients, strict infection control procedures and protective clothing minimises this risk. The UK has world class health services and infection control systems and a proven record of dealing with imported infectious diseases.

Written: 28/10/2014 , last modified: 26/06/2015