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Government to fund ambulance and burial teams in Sierra Leone to fight Ebola outbreak

Minister Charles Flanagan, MoS Sean Sherlock, Irish Aid, Press Releases, Africa, 2015

The Government is to provide an additional €778,000 to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and Minister for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today announced.

The funding will support Ebola crisis workers to manage, maintain and fuel a fleet of ambulances and burial vehicles in twelve of Sierra Leone’s fourteen districts. Approximately 5 million people across the twelve districts will benefit from the programme, which will address a need identified by Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Centre.

A recently-deployed member of the Irish Defence Forces, who is a qualified paramedic and has experience in special operations and medical planning, has provided important technical advice on the establishment of this fleet management programme.

The additional funding announced today brings Ireland’s total contribution in the affected countries in West Africa to over €18 million in 2014. This includes more than €5 million for Ebola treatment facilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as for contact-tracing, community sensitisation and child nutrition programmes, among other activities.

Announcing the funding, Minister Flanagan highlighted the importance of effective logistics in tackling Ebola:

“It is vital that the international community remains engaged and vigilant in responding to the Ebola crisis. This programme will improve the reach and effectiveness of the emergency vehicles and thus reduce Ebola transmission and mortality rates by ensuring that ambulances and other response vehicles are properly maintained, fuelled and decontaminated. This is another targeted and practical response by Ireland.

“Bringing the outbreak under control is a top priority for us. This means both limiting the number of deaths and helping Sierra Leone to rebuild following this devastating epidemic. Dealing effectively with the outbreak requires long term strengthening of health systems as well as support for more targeted interventions responding to changing needs on the ground.

Minister Sherlock highlighted Ireland’s long term engagement and commitment to Sierra Leone saying:

“As one of a small number of countries with an Embassy in Freetown, Ireland has been very active in working with local and international partners to fight the Ebola epidemic. Three members of the Irish Defence Forces were deployed to the Embassy on 18 November to reinforce the capacity of the Embassy with key technical skills.

“Our support for this programme demonstrates Ireland’s commitment to effective interventions. We are working closely with international partners to respond to a crucial gap identified by the Sierra Leonean authorities. We are channelling support to NGOs with significant experience on the ground and we are leveraging our expertise in the Embassy in Freetown to maximum effect.”

The programme will create a comprehensive inventory of vehicles, establish rigorous systems for fleet management, facilitate the procurement of spare parts and employ qualified vehicle maintenance workers and other trained staff, who will ensure ambulances and burial vehicles are properly maintained and decontaminated.

The programme is being funded jointly by Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development; the UK’s Department for International Development and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. It is being run by a consortium of three NGOs: Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, and World Vision, the lead agency.

ENDS

Press Office
2 January 2015

Notes for editors

• Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For further information see www.irishaid.ie

• In 2014, Ireland is providing over €18 million to the affected countries in West Africa, directly and through NGOs.

• Some €10 million is being provided for our annual development programmes in our partner countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia. A primary focus of these programmes is on strengthening health systems in the two countries, which were already of poor standard but which have now been overwhelmed. Irish Aid has reprogrammed funding for long-term development assistance work which can no longer be implemented directly to the Ebola response.

• Direct funding of over €5 million is being provided for Ebola treatment facilities in both Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as for contact-tracing, community sensitisation and child nutrition programmes, among other activities. This figure includes 42 tonnes of humanitarian stocks air-lifted to Sierra Leone and distributed to Ebola-affected households and communities. It also includes a contribution of €1 million to the UN Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund established by the UN Secretary General in September to ensure coherent involvement by the UN system in the overall response to the Ebola outbreak.

• The consortium has been jointly responding to the Ebola outbreak since 1 November and already has responsibility for safe burial programmes in ten districts in Sierra Leone. These NGOs have a presence in every district.