By Ann Marie Foley - 07 January, 2015
The Government is to provide an extra €778,000 to help fight the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.
Through American and UK Catholic relief agencies and World Vision, the money will fund a fleet of ambulances and burial vehicles in twelve of Sierra Leone’s fourteen districts.
Approximately 5 million people across these districts will benefit from the programme which was called for by Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Centre.
A member of the Irish Defence Forces and a qualified paramedic with experience in special operations and medical planning has provided technical advice on the establishment of this fleet management programme.
The new funding 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, and other activities.
Announcing the funding, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD emphasised 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,” the Minister stated.
He said that bringing the outbreak under control is a top priority as is limiting the number of deaths and helping Sierra Leone to rebuild following this devastating epidemic.
This requires long term strengthening of health systems and a more targeted response to changing needs on the ground.
Minister for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, was also at the announcement of funding and highlighted Ireland’s long term engagement in Sierra Leone especially being one of very few countries to have an Embassy in Freetown.
“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,” he said.
“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 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.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.
CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part of Caritas International (which is also a partner with Trócaire).